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Molluscum Contagiosum

February 3rd, 2017

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum Contagiosum is a fairly common viral infection that mainly involves skin. It is caused by MCV (or Molluscum contagiosum virus. Researchers classify this virus under pox family of viruses. Historically, it was believed that this virus only affect children but according to clinical studies, it is also a very common sexually transmitted disease that affect adult males and females with risky lifestyle.

Transmission Of Molluscum Contagiosum

In adults, the most common route of transmission is through sexual contact. Any form of skin to skin contact is enough to spread the virus to a healthy contact. Data also indicates that virus may also be transmitted without getting in touch with infected mucous membranes. Being in contact with infected skin lesions can also transmit the disease. Other common sources of transmission are:

  • Sharing baths and swimming pools with an infected person
  • Using lifeless objects that have been exposed to infected lesions (for example, clothes and towels).
  • One can spread infection by touching other body parts after touching the lesion i.e. autoinoculation. Therefore, one should not shave wounded areas or areas near it.

Incubation Period Of Molluscum Contagiosum

The incubation period of Molluscum contagiosum virus ranges from a week to 6 months but the average estimated period is generally between 2-3 months.

What Are Classic Symptoms Of Molluscum Contagiosum?

One of the most prominent symptoms of active infection is skin lesion which may last from 2 weeks to 4 years. The skin lesions can be pink, red, greyish white or yellow in color. Most of the time, these lesions are seen on buttocks, thighs, groin, and lower abdomen. Sometimes these lesions may appear in anal and external genital area. In children, these lesions are observed on arms, legs, face, and trunk region.

Initially, lesions appear as small bumps but with the passage of time these may turn into larger wounds. Other symptoms include; tenderness or itching in the affected area.

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How To Diagnose Molluscum Contagiosum?

MCV is diagnosed by specific appearance of lesions on physical examination. The sample is collected from the lesion and is placed on a slide for gram staining to distinguish the infected cells from normal cells. The sample collected from lesions can also be examined under electron microscope in order to make the diagnosis.

Treatment Of Molluscum Contagiosum

Most symptoms resolve on their own however, lesions need to be physically removed to prevent autoinoculation and reduce the risk of transmission to others. Lesion can be removed via surgical procedure and/or chemicals such as trichloracetic acid, silver nitrate, phenol, podophyllin, cantharidin or iodine.

An alternate method of removing the lesions is by cryotherapy.

Sometimes lesions reappear however, the exact cause is not clear. It may be due to aggravation of subclinical infection, reinfection, or rejuvenation of a suppressed infection.

HIV And Molluscum

HIV patients when infected with molluscum can have severe breakouts. It has been observed that Molluscum Contagiosum symptoms are more severe in HIV positive individuals.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Molluscum Contagiosum Transmission?

  • Avoid having sexual or skin to skin contact with the infected person.
  • Use latex condoms or other moisture barriers while having oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Condoms can protect penis and vagina but they won’t provide any shield to other areas of your body like scrotum and anus.
  • Avoid using spermicide as it causes the irritation of skin or vaginal tissues which may lead to tiny cuts; thereby making it easier to spread the sexually transmitted infection.
  • Monogamous relation from both sides is a sure way of preventing Molluscum Contagiosum as well as other STIs.
  • Avoid touching lesions if you are already infected with molluscum contagiosum and if you get in contact with lesion, wash hands thoroughly before touching other parts of body.


  • Stray-Pedersen, A., Jouanguy, E., Crequer, A., Bertuch, A. A., Brown, B. S., Jhangiani, S. N., … & Metry, D. (2014). Compound heterozygous CORO1A mutations in siblings with a mucocutaneous-immunodeficiency syndrome of epidermodysplasia verruciformis-HPV, molluscum contagiosum and granulomatous tuberculoid leprosy. Journal of clinical immunology, 34(7), 871-890.
  • Chen, X., Anstey, A. V., & Bugert, J. J. (2013). Molluscum contagiosum virus infection. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 13(10), 877-888.
  • Mendez-Rios, J. D., Yang, Z., Erlandson, K. J., Cohen, J. I., Martens, C. A., Bruno, D. P., … & Moss, B. (2016). Molluscum Contagiosum Virus Transcriptome in Abortively Infected Cultured Cells and a Human Skin Lesion. Journal of virology, 90(9), 4469-4480.

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