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What Is Molluscum Contagiosum?

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molluscum contagiosum

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  • While this disease is prevalent among children under 15 years old, molluscum contagiosum can also infect toddlers and sexually active teens and adults
  • Because it’s a self-limiting condition, the overall prognosis for molluscum contagiosum is said to be excellent. The lesions are usually painless, disappear on their own and rarely leave scars even if left untreated
  • The lesions tend to resolve spontaneously among people with healthy immune systems. However, this cannot be said for immunocompromised individuals, since they may develop lesions that are more persistent, widespread and difficult to eradicate

Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection caused by a virus of the same name.1 While this disease is prevalent among children under 15 years old, molluscum contagiosum can also infect toddlers2 as well as sexually active teens and adults.3 Infected people usually develop benign raised lesions or bumps on the upper layers of the skin. These lesions, known as mollusca, are small and are usually white, pink or flesh-colored with a dimple or pin in the center.4

The Telltale Sign of Molluscum Contagiosum in Adults and Children

Molluscum contagiosum lesions on the skin may appear alone, or in groups, clusters or rows. In children, the lesions are commonly found on the chest, stomach, arms, armpits, legs, groin, genital area and face. In sexually active teens and adults, lesions can be found in the genital area or the inner thighs. Lesions can also appear around the eyes or around the mouth, albeit rarely.5

Those with molluscum contagiosum will notice 10 to 20 bumps on their skin at first, but this number can go up if they have a weak immune system. If someone with HIV-AIDS has been infected by the molluscum contagiosum virus, there’s a possibility that 100 or more bumps may appear.6

Common Risk Factors for Molluscum Contagiosum

While anyone can be affected by molluscum contagiosum, there are certain groups who are more likely to be infected compared to others. These include:7,8

  • Children 10 years old and below
  • People who live in tropical or warm and humid climates, and in areas where living conditions are crowded
  • People who have weakened immune systems due to factors like HIV, organ transplants or cancer treatments
  • People with atopic dermatitis, a common form of eczema that causes scaly and itchy rashes
  • People participating in contact sports that heavily involve skin-to-skin contact

What Is the Prognosis for Molluscum Contagiosum?

Because it’s a self-limiting condition,9 the overall prognosis for molluscum contagiosum is said to be excellent. The lesions are usually painless, disappear on their own and rarely leave scars even if left untreated.10 While the length of time the virus affects a person varies, the bumps can last for a few months to at least one year, according to a 2016 JAMA Dermatology article.11

As noted by EMedicineHealth, lesions tend to resolve spontaneously among people with healthy immune systems. However, this cannot be said for immunocompromised individuals, since they may develop lesions that are more persistent, widespread and difficult to eradicate. In some cases, the lesions never resolve completely. Some people may also experience scarring, either due to scratches, abrasion of the lesions or procedures typically recommended to remove the lesions.12

MORE ABOUT MOLLUSCUM CONTAGIOSUM

Molluscum Contagiosum: Introduction

What Is Molluscum Contagiosum?

Molluscum Contagiosum Symptoms

Molluscum Contagiosum Causes

Molluscum Contagiosum Treatment

Molluscum Contagiosum Prevention

Molluscum Contagiosum Diet

Molluscum Contagiosum FAQ


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