Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus. Although it mostly affects children, it can occur in adults as well, especially those with weakened immune systems. It produces raised, round, firm bumps on the skin with a small dot or dent in the center. In children, the bumps usually appear on the face, arms, legs, or torso. It can be sexually transmitted between adults causing the bumps to occur on the genitals, inner thighs, or lower abdomen. It is contagious and transmitted through either skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, contact with objects that have touched an infected person, or through pools or hot tubs in which a person with the virus has been in. It can also be spread to other areas of the body after touching or scratching the infected skin. To prevent spreading the infection, it is important to wash hands often, avoid scratching, cover bumps with bandages or clothing when around others, and to not share personal items like clothing or towels with anyone.

Complication that may arise are inflammation of the area, scratching that leads to scarring or that creates open wounds for bacteria to enter and cause infection, or bumps on the eyelids that can cause pink eye (conjunctivitis). While the infection will go away on its own in time (between six months and two years), a dermatologist may be able to speed the healing along. Potential treatments that may be used to treat molluscum contagiosum are: prescription creams for use at home, cantharidin which causes blisters that lift the bumps away from the skin, curettage where each bump is scraped off by hand, cryotherapy (freezing), or laser therapy. Other treatments that must be applied by a professional in the doctor’s office include the use of bichloracetic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, and a trichloroacetic acid peel.

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