Molluscum Contagiosum by Ed Uthman / CC BY 2.0
Molluscum contagiosum: it’s a common viral skin infection and as the scientific name implies, quite contagious. While most common among children, anyone of any age can develop molluscum by coming in contact with the virus.
Molluscum causes raised bumps to appear on the outer layer of the skin. The bumps can appear anywhere on the body and usually aren’t painful. However, bumps caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus can spread across the body and from person to person. As a board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Doppelt is skilled in diagnosing and treating this common skin infection.
What is Molluscum?
Molluscum is a viral skin infection that appears as small raised bumps. The infection is very contagious and can spread across the body and from person to person by contact with infected skin and infected objects.
Mollusca contagiosa on a girl's thigh / CC BY-SA 4.0
The raised bumps caused by molluscum generally can range from being the size of a pinhead to as large as a pencil eraser. If one of the bumps are injured or scratched, the infection can transfer to other sites on the body, other people, or even touched objects.
The tell-tale symptoms of molluscum can be quite obvious, however a doctor’s diagnosis is required for proper treatment. Symptoms of molluscum might include:
- Small, raised, flesh-colored bumps on the skin with a small indentation on the top of the bump
- Bumps can become red or inflamed
- Bumps can be itchy
- Bumps might be removed by scratching or itching, which can let the infection spread
Though the bumps can appear anywhere on the body, it is most commonly found on the tops of the hands, arms, armpits, face, and neck in children. Bumps generally appear on the groin, inner thigh, and lower abdomen in adults.
Is Molluscum Contagious?
Yes, molluscum is contagious. It is caused by a virus. Molluscum can easily spread through contact with an infected person or an object touched by an infected person. This means that the virus can be spread among children during typical playtime activities. In adults, molluscum can be spread through sexual contact or contact sports.
Children and adults can also come in contact with the molluscum virus by touching surfaces and items previously handled by someone with the virus. Sharing towels, clothing, toys, and other common items can lead to molluscum infections.
While molluscum contagiosum is quite commonly spread among children, adults with weakened immune symptoms are typically more likely to develop this viral skin infection.
Molluscum Contagiosum in Kids
Molluscum contagiosum is especially common in kids. In most cases, children with the bumps caused by this viral infection can still go to school or daycare. However, parents will likely want to take a few precautions.
Molluscum bumps should be covered by a bandage or clothing to help prevent the spread to classmates. Good hygiene is also especially important and hands should be washed frequently for at least 20 seconds. Kids with molluscum contagiosum should also be extra cautious when sharing toys.
Molluscum Contagiosum Treatment
The bumps caused by molluscum contagiosum can be diagnosed by a dermatologist like Dr. Doppelt. A visual exam is often enough to confirm diagnosis, though a skin scraping can be used to confirm. When the condition is diagnosed, molluscum treatment can begin.
How to Treat Molluscum Contagiosum
A few different therapies can be used to treat molluscum cantagiosum. Topical treatment, laser therapy, curettage, and cryotherapy can be used as molluscum contagiosum treatment.
- Topical treatment involves the use of acid or chemical creams to remove the bumps caused by the molluscum virus.
- Laser therapy uses special pulses of light to remove the bumps.
- Curettage involves the use of a scalpel or sharp tool to remove the molluscum bumps.
- Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze off the bump.
These procedures can be performed in Dr. Doppelt’s office. While pain is generally mild, anesthetic can be used, too. A dermatologist might recommend a prescription treatment for this condition.
It is important to know that treatment isn’t always necessary for molluscum. Those with a healthy immune system might see the bumps caused by the virus disappear over time. A board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Doppelt can determine the right course of action on a case-by-case basis.