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Molluscum Contagiosum is a common skin disease caused by a virus whose name is same that is Molluscum contagiosum.  The viral infection produces raised skin bumps that are round, firm and usually painless and their size can vary from a small pinhead to a pencil eraser. As the name says the infection is very contagious, it spreads from one person to another easily. It is most common in the children affecting fewer than 5% of the children but it can affect adult as well especially those which have weaker immune system. The time period of the infection with the virus differs from person to person, but the bumps associated with the virus can remain there from 2 months to 4 years at max. Treatment is not required in the most of the cases though options are available.

What is a Molluscum Contagiosum?

Symptoms of Molluscum Contagiosum

The sign and symptoms of the molluscum contagiosum include raised skin lesion or bumps having the following characteristics

  • Fleshy, firm and dome shaped lesion
  • Size ranges from 2 to 5 mm but they can be larger and numerous in people having poor immune system
  • The surface is shiny with a central indentation
  • Itching may or may not be there
  • Can become inflamed or red
  • They can occur all over the body except the soles and palms
  • Can involve the skin of the genitals, groins, thighs or lower abdomen

Causes of Molluscum Contagiosum

It is caused by the spread of the virus through

  • Direct skin to skin contact by touching the lesions of the affected person, common in children, some sports
  • Sharing the contaminated objects such as towels, toys and other things which come in the contact of the skin frequently
  • Adult more commonly acquire the virus through sexual contact
  • Scratching the skin lesion can spread it to the nearby normal skin

Risk factors for Molluscum Contagiosum

Any person can acquire the skin infection but some people are more likely to get this infection due to the following risk factors

Age: the children belonging to the age group from 1 to 10 have higher chances to get the infection

Immune system: people who have weaker immune system due to HIV infection or any other reason have more chances of acquiring the infection which is difficult to treat

Atopic dermatitis: a common form of eczema causing scaly and itchy rashes. People suffering from it have higher chances of having the infection

Risk factors of Molluscum contagiosum

Diagnosis of Molluscum Contagiosum

Your doctor or dermatologist can easily make out the diagnosis by just asking your medical history, conducting a physical examination and can order a medical test to confirm it.

Medical history: your doctor will ask you certain question like the nature and onset of the lesion. If the patient is child then the mother or family members should be able to give the history. The sight of the characteristics lesion is enough to make out the diagnosis but to rule out from other causes of the skin lesions, your doctor can do a histologic examination of the lesion.

Histologic examinations: the patient’s affected skin scrapings are taken and viewed under the microscope to look for the viral lesions

Treatment of Molluscum Contagiosum

In most cases treatment is not required and the infections and bumps will fade upon their own in about 12 to 18 months but treatment is required if

  • The person has a poor immune system and lesions are large and widespread
  • There are complications present
  • Patient have an existing skin disease like atopic dermatitis
  • There are high chances that the person can spread the lesions to others

The treatment option includes dermatological procedure like

  • Curettage: The dermatologist uses a small tool called as curette which is used to scrap off the lesion away from the skin
  • Cryotherapy: the dermatologist uses the liquid nitrogen to freeze the bumps
  • Laser surgery: laser is targeted on the lesion to destroy the bumps

Topical medications

  • Skin irritants: they peel off the upper dead layer of the skin and includes trichloroacetic acid
  • Creams: creams and gels containing retinoids such as adapalene, tazarotene, tretinoin can be prescribed by your doctor to apply on the lesions.

Precautions

If you are infected with the virus then you should take the below precautions to limit the spread of the virus

  • Avoid scratching the bumps: as the virus can infect the nearby skin and you will get more bumps
  • Avoid sharing personal items: keep your personal belongings like towel, clothing private
  • Avoid sexual contact: if your genital area is infected so you should avoid the sexual contact with your partner.

Precautions of Molluscum Contagiosum

References

Dermatology, Molluscm Contagiosum


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