What is Molluscum Contagiosum?
Molluscum Contagiosum is a common non-cancerous skin growth caused by a viral infection in the top layers of the skin. They are similar to warts, but are caused by a different virus. The name molluscum contagiosum implies that the virus and the growths are easily spread by skin contact. The virus that causes molluscum contagiosum belongs to a family of viruses called poxviruses. This virus can enter through small breaks in the skin or hair follicles and can lead to the development of molluscum lesions. It does not affect any internal organs.
Molluscum are usually small, flesh-colored or pink, dome shaped growths. They may appear shiny and have a small indentation in the center. Molluscum are often found in clusters of the skin of the chest, abdomen, arms, groin, or buttock. They can also involve the face and eyelids.
The molluscum virus is transmitted from the skin of one person who has these growths to the skin of another person. Molluscum occur where most often skin-to-skin contact is frequent. They often occur in young children, especially among siblings. Molluscum can be transmitted sexually and may be spread in swimming pools.
Many dermatologists advise treating molluscum because they spread. However, molluscum will eventually go away on their own without leaving a scar. Because the growths are easily spread from one area of the skin to another, some growths may appear as others are going away. It may take from six months up to five years for all the molluscum to go away on their own.
Molluscum are treated in the same ways that warts are treated. They can be frozen with liquid nitrogen, destroyed with various acids or blistering solutions, treated with an electric needle (electrocautery), scraped off with a sharp instrument (curette), treated daily with a home application of a topical retinoid cream or gel, treated with a topical immune modifier, or treated with a topical anti-viral medication.