Things You Should Know About Molluscum Contagiosum

November 12, 2012

Things You Should Know About Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum Contagiosum, as the name suggests, is contagious and is a fairly common viral infection of the skin. It is relatively harmless and although it can be caught by people of all ages, it is most common in children and young adults.

Molluscum Contagiosum can be spread through close personal contact or through sharing objects such as towels or cups. It takes a few weeks after coming into contact with the virus for the spots to appear. (Known as an incubation period). The people who are most likely to catch the virus and also most likely to have the most severe reaction to it, are those who suffer from atopic eczema, asthma and hay fever. Also anyone whose immune system is suppressed for any reason such as because of treatment they are undergoing, have been known to develop a particularly large number of Molluscum Contagiosum spots. However, most people who catch the virus are otherwise perfectly healthy.

Molluscum Contagiosum is not hereditary, it is just common for family member to be affected by the virus at the same time as they are living together in a confined space and often sharing the same household items. It is usually too late to stop sharing items once the virus is showing up as the virus would have been caught weeks ago. However, good practise and hygiene should be maintained in the interest of other family members, friends or houseguests who may have not yet contracted the virus.

Molluscum Contagiosum spots are often sore and itchy, particularly if they become infected or inflamed. Try not to scratch them as this can cause them to bleed. The spots are small ranging from 2-6mm and are a raised dome like shape. They are usually skin coloured with a shiny surface and can be identified as Molluscum Contagiosum if they have a central pore type feature containing a cheesy plug. The area surrounding the spots can often become dry and red, looking somewhat like eczema. The spots often occur in groups and its normal to have 1 or 2 up to around 20 spots.

A doctor should be able to diagnose the spots to be Molluscum Contagiosum simply by looking, however if there is any doubt the liquid squeezed out of the spot can be inspected under a microscope. In rare circumstances, the entire spot may need to be removed and examined by microscope in order to confirm the diagnosis. Molluscum Contagiosum usually clears up by itself but can take between 6 and 18 months and sometimes even longer to do so. The spots can become red immediately before clearing up and sometimes leave tiny scars. It can be treated as long as the patient is old enough. If the child is too young it is not necessary to put them through harsh treatment, as the spots should eventually disappear by themselves.

One example of available treatment is cryotherapy, where spots are frozen with liquid nitrogen every so often until they clear. Another method is to squeeze the spots tight and then pierce them with a sharp stick. Local anaesthetic is used to reduce the pain prior to this procedure. An eye specialist should treat spots found on the eyelids. Make a conscious effort to reduce the spreading of the virus by practising clean hygiene and personal use of household objects.

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