Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum (muh-luhs-kum) contagiosum (kən-tā-jē-ō-səm) is a common skin disease. It is caused by a virus. This virus easily spreads from person to person. 

People can get molluscum by sharing towels and clothing. Wrestlers and gymnasts may get it from touching infected mats. Skin-to-skin contact also spreads the virus. 

Often the only sign of molluscum is pink or flesh-colored bumps on the skin. These bumps can appear anywhere on the skin.

Scratching or picking at these bumps can spread the virus from one part of your body to another

Most people get about 10 to 20 bumps on their skin. If a person has a weakened immune system, many bumps often appear. People who have AIDS can have 100 or more bumps.

Whenever you can see the bumps on the skin, molluscum contagiosum is contagious.

Treatment helps to prevent the virus from:

  • Spreading to other parts of your body.
  • Spreading to other people.
  • Growing out of control in people who have a weakened immune system.

Treatment, however, may not be best for a young child. Treatment can have unwanted side effects for a young child. And the bumps often go away without treatment.  Although the bumps often go away without treatment, most people should be treated. And people who have a weakened immune system should definitely get treatment. The bumps will not go away without treatment if a person has a weakened immune system. 

There are many treatment options. The treatment your dermatologist prescribes will depend on your age, health, where the bumps appear on your body, and other considerations. 

Treatments that a dermatologist can perform in the office to treat molluscum contagiosum include:

  • Cryosurgery: The dermatologist freezes the bumps with liquid nitrogen.
  • Curettage: The dermatologist may use a small tool called a curette to scrape the bumps from the skin.
  • Laser surgery: A dermatologist uses a laser to target and destroy the bumps. This can be an effective treatment for people who have a weakened immune system.
  • Topical (applied to the skin) therapy: Your dermatologist can apply various acids and blistering solutions to destroy the bumps. These work by destroying the top layers of the skin. Tricholoracetic acid is often used to treat people who have a weak immune system and many bumps. 

When a patient has many bumps or large bumps, a dermatologist may need to repeat the procedure every 3 to 6 weeks until the bumps disappear. These procedures cause some discomfort.

Medicines that your dermatologist may prescribe for you to use at home include the following:

  • Imiquimod: This medicine is applied to the bumps. Imiquimod helps your immune system fight the virus. This is strong medicine. It also is used to treat stubborn warts and some skin cancers.
  • Retinoid or antiviral medicine applied to the skin: Patients apply this medicine to the bumps as instructed.

While treating the bumps, it is normal for new bumps to appear as others fade.  Molluscum contagiosum remains contagious until all of the bumps go away. If a person with a healthy immune system opts not to treat the bumps, the bumps will eventually go away on their own without leaving a scar. After treatment, a person may get new bumps for as long as 6 months. Most people have complete clearing in 2 to 4 months. 

If a person has AIDS or another disease that weakens the immune system, the bumps will not go away without treatment — and the bumps can be a challenge to treat. Dermatologists often combine treatments to offer these patients some clearing. Complete clearing may not be possible.

 


 

Conditions We Treat

Acne

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Acne Cyst

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Actinic Keratosis (Also called a solar keratosis)

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Alopecia (Hair Loss)

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Atopic Dermatitis/Eczema

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Atypical Mole (Dysplastic)

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Basal Cell Carcinoma

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Bed Bugs

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Blackheads/Whiteheads

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Congenital Mole

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Dry Skin

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Eczema

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Female Pattern Baldness

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Fungal Infections

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Genital Warts

Genital warts are warts that appear in the genital area. There can be 1 wart or a cluster of warts. People get these warts by picking up the human

Herpes Simplex

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Hives

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Lichen Planus

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Melanoma

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Melasma

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Moles

Moles are common. Almost every adult has a few moles. Adults who have light skin often have more moles. They may have 10 to 40 moles on their skin.

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum (muh-luhs-kum) contagiosum (kən-tā-jē-ō-səm) is a common skin disease. It is caused by a virus. This virus easily spreads from person to

Nummular Dermatitis

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Pityriasis Rosea

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Poison Ivy Dermatitis

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Rosacea

Rosacea (rose-AY-sha) is a common skin disease. It often begins with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than other people. The redness can

Seborrheic Dermatitis

This is a very common skin disease that causes a rash. When this rash appears, it often looks like the one pictured above. The skin tends to have

Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic keratoses tend to do the following: Start as small, rough bumps, then slowly thicken and develop a warty surface Have a waxy,

Shingles/Herpes Zoster

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Skin Cancer

Even the same type of skin cancer can look very different from person to person. This makes it hard to look at a picture and tell if you have skin

Tinea Versicolor

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Warts

Warts are small, harmless growths that appear most frequently on the hands and feet. Sometimes they look flat and smooth, other times they have a