Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infections that causes bumps (mollusca) to develop on the outer layer of the skin. The virus is common, particularly in children, and is easily spread through direct contact with affected skin or by touching contaminated objects such as towels or toys. In adults, the virus may also be spread through sexual contact.
Signs of Molluscum Contagiosum
Outbreaks with the characteristic pink bumps can occur from weeks to months after exposure to the virus. The lesions may appear anywhere on the body but are rarely seen on the palms or soles.
The bumps are often:
- Smooth and firm
- Rounded with a dimple in the center
- Pink, white, or flesh colored
- From 2 to 5 mm in size
Molluscum contagiosum bumps sometimes contain a thick, white material. The normally painless bumps can become swollen, red or itchy.
Those with a weakened immune system are more susceptible to molluscum contagiosum and outbreaks are often more severe.
Treatment of Molluscum Contagiosum
Some cases of molluscum contagiosum disappear in a few months without treatment, but seeing your dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment is still advisable since mollusca can be confused with other conditions including chickenpox, warts, or skin cancer.
Treating molluscum contagiosum can help prevent the virus from spreading to different areas of the body or to other people. Some treatments must be administered in the dermatology clinic while others can be done at home. Treatment options include:
- Cryotherapy: The dermatologist applies liquid nitrogen to freeze mollusca
- Curettage: A surgical instrument is used to scrape away bumps
- Laser therapy: Bumps are destroyed by laser light
- Topical applications: For multiple bumps, your dermatologist may apply acidic compounds or other solutions to destroy the top layer of skin.
- Medication: Prescription creams, including salicylic acids and immune modulating creams may be prescribed to be applied at home
Preventing spread of Molluscum Contagiosum
It may take several months for the bumps caused by molluscum contagiosum to completely disappear. In the meantime, your dermatologist may suggest:
- Covering bumps with bandages
- Avoid scratching or rubbing the lesions
- Good hand washing technique
- Not sharing towels or other personal items
- No contact sports such as wrestling
- No shaving in areas where bumps are present
- Abstaining from sex
Dr. Aboutalebi is a board certified dermatologist who specializes in the
evaluation and treatment of molluscum contagiosum and other skin conditions. At Northstar Dermatology, we treat patients from Keller, Fort Worth, North Richland Hills and surrounding areas in North Texas. Call our dermatology clinic today at 817-427-3376 to schedule your consultation.