Molluscum Contagiosum is a common harmless viral infection of the skin that commonly affects both children and adults. Though, the disease is usually mild and is self-limited treatment may be required as its contagious.
Molluscum Contagiosum is caused by poxvirus called Molluscum Contagiosum virus (MCV). There are four types of MCV (MCV-I, MCV-II, MCV-III, MCV-IV). MCV-I is most common type while, MCV-II is seen in people with HIV infection. MCV-III and MCV-IV are rare.
The virus spreads from person to person either by skin-to skin contact or sharing items of the infected person. It can also transmit through sexual contact. It can also spread within a body during the course of touching or scratching of the lesion. Most believe that the virus might also be spread by sharing common baths, saunas or swimming pools, however, this has not been proven. Molluscum contatiosum is common among the individual with atopic eczema and those with immunosuppressionn like underlying HIV infection, diabetes, oral steroids, immunosuppressive therapy etc.
Molluscum Contagiosum Signs and Symptoms
Molluscum contagiosum presents as small, round, raised, white, pearly, pink or flesh-colored bumps (papules) with a dimple or pit in the center. These bumps are usually smooth, firm and painless. These lesion usually present in a group. In children, lesions are usually located in the face, trunk, arms and legs. In adults, lower abdomen, groin, thighs and genital are the commonly affected areas but they may appear anywhere on the body. Few cases have reported findings on the conjunctiva and eyelids.
In most of the cases there may be few lesion (less than twenty), some may also have 1-2 lesion. When one has hundreds of such lesion, this may indicate decrease immunity (as in the case of chronic internal disease like diabetes, HIV or any medications that decrease immune system).
Molluscum contagiosum is usually asymptomatic; few may experience irritation, itching, tenderness and pain. Lesions normally are self-limited and may disappear within 6-12 months without leaving scar. In people with weakened immune system, it can persist for several years.
Diagnosis of Molluscum Contagiosum
Generally diagnosis is made by visual inspection of the lesion. If in doubt, skin scrapings is taken from the infected area and viewed under a microscope. If the diagnosis is uncertain excisional biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Although, Molluscum contagiosum lesions may resolve on its own without leaving any scar, treatment may be necessary to avoid spreading within the body or another person. There are several topical creams, oral medications and surgical options to consider. These options are listed below:
- Potassium hydroxide
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Salicylic acid
- Imiquimod cream 5%
- Tretinoin cream
- Trichloroacetic acid
- Silver nitrate
- Cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen)
- Pulsed dye laser
Once the lesion have completely resolved Molluscum Contagiosum virus doesn’t remain in the body like other herpes virus. It can be completely cured. However, there is no permanent immunity to virus; so, one may get infected again upon contact to an infected person.