Molluscum Contagiosum or “Molluscum” is a common virus that is easily spread from skin-to-skin contact. It is not physically harmful but is often cosmetically displeasing. In most cases, the bumps will usually go away on their own within 6 months but there are several treatments available.
What causes Molluscum?
Molluscum is a pox virus that is spread through skin-to-skin contact, sexual contact, or contact with the infectious bumps. It can also be transmitted through sharing sex toys, clothing and towels that have been infected.
Avoiding contact with or covering the effected area will help to reduce the risk. Using barriers (condoms, gloves, and dams) to cover genitals can help to reduce the risk as long as they cover the infected area. Avoid sharing sex toys and also clothing and towels if you or a partner(s) are infected.
Molluscum causes painless bumps that can appear 2 weeks – 6months after contact with the virus. The virus begins as a small bump which gets larger over several weeks. The bump(s) are pink-ish white and feel firm and have a small craterlike indent in the centre.
If the virus is passed through sexual contact, the bumps usually appear on the genitals, groin, buttocks, thighs or abdomen.
Complications of Molluscum
Molluscum is not a harmful virus; it is very contagious and if left untreated can spread easily to other parts of the body and other people. Molluscum is generally considered to be more of a nuisance than a harm to you.
Occasionally, the bumps can become red and infected and may require antibiotics to prevent scarring from developing.
If people have compromised immune systems such as people living with HIV and/or hepatits, undergoing treatment for cancer, or various other health issues; they may experience more intense symptoms.
Molluscum testing and diagnosis
Molluscum is usually diagnosed through a visual exam. Occasionally, a health care provider may take a small sample of the bump and send away to the lab for confirmation.
Molluscum usually goes away on it’s own without treatment in 6 months. In some situations, bumps may persist for longer periods of time. When molluscum cannot be seen, it is no longer on the skin and is not contagious.
There are a variety of treatments that can be used by a health care provider to treat molluscum:
- liquid nitrogen
- prescribed topical medication that is applied over a course of time to the bumps
- core extraction