Molluscum contagiosum is an infectious skin condition caused by a virus. It is characterized by raised bumps on the skin's surface that are typically flesh or pearl colored.
Molluscum contagiosum can occur anywhere on the body, but it most often affects the arms, legs, and trunk. The condition is most frequently seen in children, but it can also occur in adults, especially if the individual has a weakened immune system.
Molluscum contagiosum is easily spread through skin-to-skin contact or by sharing clothes or towels. An infected person can also spread the virus to other parts of their body by scratching the bumps.
Children often contract the infection by playing with other children who are infected. In adults with healthy immune systems, molluscum contagiosum affecting the genital area is considered a sexually transmitted disease.
A person with molluscum contagiosum is considered contagious until the bumps on the skin have completely resolved. Without medical intervention, this can take months to years to occur. Topical creams are one treatment option; however, they generally do not prove very effective. Various in-office treatments typically provide faster and more complete results.
Depending on the location of the bumps, the dermatologist may choose to treat molluscum contagiosum with cryotherapy. This involves spraying liquid nitrogen on the affected area, which freezes and destroys the virus. There is normally some mild blistering of the affected area following the treatment. If the bumps appear on the face, the doctor may choose to extract the virus using a their fingers or a curette.
Most patients only require one to four treatments; however, if the infection is widespread, additional treatments may be necessary in order to get rid of the virus completely. Molluscum contagiosum typically has an incubation period of six weeks. This means that new bumps may develop even after the existing spots have been treated. Contact precautions are extremely important at preventing further outbreaks.
Schedule an appointment today to have one of our skin experts examine, diagnose, and treat any possible molluscum before they spread and get worse.
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