Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the skin.
Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a specific virus. The virus can be spread from: Direct skin to skin contact with an infected personShared items, such as towels or wrestling matsOne part of a person's body to another area
Factors that may increase your risk of getting molluscum contagiosum include:
Weakened immune system, especially in people with
Poor hygieneOvercrowded conditionsSexual contactHaving other skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis
Molluscum contagiosum usually affects the face, trunk, arms, and legs of children. The genitals, abdomen, and inner thighs are common sites in adults.
Symptoms may include: Small, dome-shaped bumps with dimpling in centerItching and tendernessTranslucent, pearly, or flesh-colored bumps that may turn gray and drainWhite or waxy substance in the center of lesionMultiple lesions in groups
Symptoms may last from several weeks to several years.
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Diagnosis is usually made based on the lesion appearance. Sometimes, a biopsy will be taken to rule out other conditions. A biopsy is the removal of a small sample of the area.
Molluscum contagiosum usually goes away on its own within 6 months to 2 years without any treatment. For people with HIV infection, the lesions usually persist and spread indefinitely. Your doctor may recommend the removal of some lesions to prevent the spread of the infection or to avoid infecting others.
Lesion may be removed by one of the following: Cryotherapy—freezing of the lesionCurettage—cutting out lesionLaser surgery—steady or pulsed high intensity lightTopical therapy—destruction of the lesion with a variety of chemicals
To reduce your chances of getting molluscum contagiosum, avoid any contact with an infected person.
If you are contagious, avoid any personal contact with others, contact sports, or sharing personal items.
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Molluscum contagiosum. American Social Health Association website. Available at:
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Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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