What is Molluscum Contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a viral infection of the skin or occasionally of the mucous membranes. The virus commonly spreads through skin-to-skin contact.
What are the signs & symptoms of Molluscum?
1 week to 6 months after being exposed to MCV, small flesh-colored lumps begin to grow on the skin. The lumps are smooth, firm and dome shaped with a central indent.
In adults the lesions most often appear on the thighs, buttocks and pubic hair area, and sometimes on the genitals and around the anus.
If you have a condition causing immune suppression, such as HIV, you can get greater numbers of Molluscum over a wider area of the body.
About 1 in 10 people with Molluscum develop a condition called “Molluscum dermatitis”. This is eczema-like skin reaction affecting a few centimeters of skin around some of the Molluscum lesions. This usually disappears when the Molluscum lesion goes away.
How do you get Molluscum?
You catch MCV from your skin touching the skin of someone who has the infection. This can be sexual or non-sexual touching. Sexual transmission often causes MCV lumps on skin close to the genital area, and in nonsexual transmission the MCV lumps are often away from the genitals, on the face, arms and trunk.
The infection can also be passed through contact with objects such as gymnastic equipment or towels, through baths and swimming pools and through things that cause skin trauma such as tattooing, shaving and electrolysis.
You are more likely to catch Molluscum if you have multiple sexual partners, or have sex with commercial sex workers. If you catch Molluscum you may have also caught other STIs so a full STI and HIV check up is advisable.
What is the treatment for Molluscum?
Mechanical treatments include:
- Cryotheraphy (freezing)
- Curetting the lesions with a sharp instrument
- Squeezing out the core of each lesion
- Electrosurgery (burning)
You may need repeated treatments before all lesions disappear.
Chemical treatments include:
- Trichloroacetic acid
Other treatments include:
- Podophyllotoxin cream to body
- Imiquamod to each Molluscum lesion
- Other therapies
The doctor or pharmacist will explain how often and when to apply these.
Find out more through this Patient Information Leaflet.
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