What is Molluscum Contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection that is caused by a virus in the pox virus family. It appears as small lesions (2-5 mm) which are round and dimpled in the centre. It is not a dangerous or reportable disease, however it can be passed by direct skin-to-skin contact, sexual or non-sexual. It can also be transmitted by personal items which come in contact with the lesions, such as towels.
What are the symptoms?
- A small (2-5 mm) lesion with a dimple in the center and is usually firm, flesh-coloured or pink, and pearl or dome shaped.
- After the lesion has been present for a while, it may soften and turn grey
- The fluid may drain out of the lesion
- The lesions are not painful and can appear in clusters or individually
- The lesions appear in the groin/genital area, abdomen or inner thigh
How is it treated?
Healthy people are usually able to fight the virus and signs (lesions) disappear spontaneously over a period of 2-3 months. Complete disappearance of all lesions with no return usually occurs within 6 months to 2 years. In those with compromised immune systems the lesions may be extensive.
Molluscum Contagiosum can be treated by targeting the lesions when they appear. The treatment, if chosen, is liquid nitrogen or silver nitrate.
How can I protect myself?
Condoms and dental dams can be used to protect exposure but may not always cover the lesion completely. It is important to discuss with sexual partners the potential risk.
Infected persons should avoid sharing potentially contaminated personal items, such as towels.
The most common complication of molluscum contagiosum is a bacterial infection at the site of and around the lesion.