Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection that can affect people of all ages, although is most common in young children. Treatment is difficult and sometimes requires surgery.
Introduction to molluscum contagiosum
Molluscum contagiosum is considered to be a common viral skin infection. It can affect both men and women but is most common in infants and young children. It appears as mall round lumps, known medically as papules and tends to occur in clusters. It typically develops in warm moist areas such as the armpit, groin or behind the knee. They vary in appearance from case to case but are generally between 1-6 mm in size. They can appear white, pink or brown in colour. They sometimes have a waxy surface. As they begin to heal, the process will cause them to become inflamed, scabby or crusty. In some cases only a few spots will appear but in others there can be hundreds. Although molluscum contagiosum is not harmful it can be irritating and can last from a few month up to a couple of years in some individuals. Some people who have suffered from molluscum contagiosum will later go on to develop types of dermatitis in the same locations. This will appear red, itchy and dry. In a few cases molluscum contagiosum will results in very tiny scars once it has healed.
Can you catch molluscum contagiosum?
This condition, as the name suggests is contagious. It can be spread from person to person via direct skin contact. It appears to be caught most easily by children and also seems to spread most easily in wet conditions such as whilst children are swimming or bathing together. Adults can also spread or catch the infection through sexual contact.
Children that seem to develop the condition most severely are those who already suffer from atopic eczema. In these cases the lesions tend to be in greater quantities and last for a longer period of time. Additionally individuals, who have human immunodeficiency virus infection, also seem to develop particularly troublesome and long-term forms of the infection.
As of yet there is no known way to kill the virus. The soft white core of the lesions can sometimes be squeezed out to speed up the healing process, however this is not always affective. There are some forms of treatment available including minor surgery, curettage, cryotherapy, cantharidine and imiquimod cream. Treatments may help relieve symptoms but generally it is considered that the infection should heal up of its own accord.
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