What is molluscum contagiosum (MC) ?

Molluscum Contagiosum (MC) are usually flesh colored bumps on the skin that are caused by the MC virus. They are usually painless, but can become painful once rubbed or irritated. These are contagious with direct or indirect contact with someone who has them.

Who gets Molluscum Contagiosum (MC) ?

They are often seen in children, particularly those with eczema or dry skin (cracked skin provides a better environment for the virus to infect the skin and grow). They can also be found in sexually active adults, as a sexually transmitted infection. Additionally, they can spread more easily in immunocompromised patients.

How do I know if I have it ?

MC lesions have a characteristic appearance, with an umbilication in the middle of flesh-colored, pink, or purple bumps. In children, they are often on the trunk and extremities, but may be anywhere on the body including the buttock and thigh folds. In adults they are often in or near the groin region, but can also be anywhere on the skin.

How can I treat Molluscum Contagiosum (MC) ?

It is best treated by a dermatologist in the office. Usually liquid nitrogen is used on MC lesions, with fairly good response. Usually only 2-3 treatment sessions are required (more, for extensive spread). For young children who cannot tolerate liquid nitrogen often cantharidin, “beetle juice”, a curette, or certain topical medicines are used. Another option in children is to not treat, as the lesions are harmless and may go away on their own with good skin care. Vaseline, petroleum jelly can be placed on lesions to hasten resolution. It is also important to address any dry skin or eczema present, to prevent new lesions from starting and allow the skin to heal faster. Generally, parents do choose to have these treated, as certain places such as schools or camps may require their child to get treatment. There are some over the counter therapies that also may be tried as well. Additionally, it is important to avoid scratching or shaving MC lesions to prevent further spread.

How can I prevent Molluscum Contagiosum (MC) ?

To prevent Molluscum Contagiosum (MC), one can maintain healthy skin by avoiding irritating and fragrant products and moisturizing frequently. Additionally, one can try avoid direct or indirect contact with someone who has it, e.g. by not sharing towels with others.

When should I see a dermatologist about it ?

You can see a dermatologist for your MC once you think you might have it, to confirm the diagnosis, consider treatment options, get more testing if appropriate, and stop its spread.

Additional Resources:
American Academy of Dermatology