Molluscum Contagiosum, Viral Infection

Also known as “MC”, Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection that affect the skin and sometimes the mucous membranes. This disease infects humans, other primates, and even kangaroos.

Although you can get a molluscum infection through direct contact, saliva, or shared articles of clothing, it is often sexually transmitted among adults and usually affects the genitals, lower abdomen, buttocks, and inner thighs. In some cases, infections are also found on the lips, mouth, and eyelids.

Lesions appear on the skin between 1 week to 6 months after infection. These lesions are flesh-colored, dome-shaped, and look like pearls. They are often 1 to 5 millimeters in diameter, with a dimpled center. Although these are generally not painful, patients usually feel itchy or irritated. Picking or scratching the bumps may lead to further infection or scarring. In some cases, eczema develops around the bumps and be complicated further by bacterial infections. The virus may also spread to neighboring skin areas.

Molluscum lesions may go away on their own in six to nine months, but these can persist for up to four years. Although treatment is often unnecessary, treatment may be sought after for reasons such as bleeding, secondary infections, or simply because you are embarrassed by it.

There are a few treatment options that can be done at home. Betadine surgical scrub can be gently scrubbed on the infected area for 5 minutes daily until the lesions resolve (although not recommended for people allergic to iodine or betadine). However, you need to prick every lesion in order for this treatment to work well.

Other topical treatments include essential oil of Australian lemon myrtle, salicylic acid, tretinoin cream, and apple cider vinegar.

The infection can also be cleared by pricking the lesion’s central dimple using a sterile needle and removing the papule (where the virus is) with an alcohol swab. This treatment will heal the lesions in two to three days.

Surgical treatments that doctors do for warts can also be applied for molluscum infections. This is through the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the lesions and scraping them off with a curette. Scarring and depigmentation from the affected areas are expected.

The use of pulsed dye laser therapy for molluscum contagiosum is also effective for multiple lesions. The therapy is claimed to be almost painless and non-scarring. However, do check the dermatologist if he or she has a 585nm laser.

To avoid spreading the infection, apply the following:

  • Try not to scratch.

  • Avoid contact sports, swimming pools, and shared baths and towels.

  • Avoid shaving if bumps are on the face.

  • If bumps are on the genital area, avoid sexual activity.

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