Molluscum contagiosum is a common viral infection of the skin caused by the pox virus called molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV). It usually presents as small pink to skin-colored bumps that can affect any part of the body. As the name implies, it’s a contagious condition that can easily spread with close contact. Patients should avoid scratching or picking at lesions as they can spread them to other body parts. Handling or sharing items (such as towels, clothing, etc…) that have the virus on them can also spread the infection.
Molluscum is very common in children and often spreads by direct contact or handling of infected toys. It may also spread through sexual contact in adults. Precautionary measures to prevent the spread of molluscum include:
- Avoid scratching or picking at lesions.
- Cover the bumps with a piece of tape or bandage.
- Do not share washcloths, towels, or clothing.
- Clean any toys or objects that have been handled by an infected individual.
- If the bumps are on the face or legs, do not shave. Avoid shaving until all lesions have resolved completely.
- If the bumps are on the genital area, avoid sexual contact until all lesions have resolved completely.
- Seek early treatment.
Lesions may last for several months and gradually resolve on their own. However, because patients often spread the lesions faster than they heal, it’s best to seek treatment early. Common treatment options include:
- Cryotherapy (Cryosurgery): Very common treatment in which Liquid Nitrogen is used to “freeze” and destroy affected skin. Treatment results in blisters which gradually crust and heal in 2-3 weeks.
- Cantharidin: Chemical derived from a type of beetle which is applied to the skin and results in blistering and destruction of the affected area. Similar to cryotherapy, blisters gradually crust and heal in 2-3 weeks.
- Electrosurgery: Electrical current is used to burn the lesion.
- Imiquimod cream: A topical cream that helps the body’s immune system fight the molluscum virus. Side effect incudes inflammation and irritation of the skin.
- Salicylic acid: Over-the-counter and prescription-strength salicylic acid preparations can be applied directly to lesions which cause resolution and peeling of the lesion. Often requires multiple treatments.
Our dermatologist can help evaluate your condition and determine the best treatment option for you.