Molluscum contagiosum

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WHAT IS MOLLUSCUM CONTAGIOSUM?

Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a harmless skin infection caused by a pox virus. Lesions, if left untreated, may persist for 6-18 months before spontaneously resolving.

HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?

MC is spread by skin to skin contact. In adults this usually occurs during sexual activity, while in younger individuals, transmission is usually non-sexual.

WHAT DOES THE INFECTION LOOK LIKE?

MC appears as painless firm, round, flesh-coloured lump with a central dimple. If they are scratched or injured they can spread to surrounding skin. The lesions can take several weeks to grow and whereas in children they can be anywhere on the body, in adults, they usually occur on the thighs, groin, buttocks, lower abdomen and the genital area.

HOW LONG DO THE LUMPS TAKE TO DEVELOP?

From the time of infection, it takes an average of 2-3 months for the lumps to appear but this may vary from as little as one week to as long as 6 months. Some people never get any lumps at all.

HOW IS MOLLUSCUM CONTAGIOSUM DIAGNOSED?

MC is diagnosed from its distinctive appearance.

HOW IS MOLLUSCUM CONTAGIOSUM TREATED?

Although the lumps usually disappear on their own, most people prefer to be treated. At the MSHC we usually freeze them using liquid nitrogen or sometimes prescribe imiquimod (Aldara) cream or podophyllotoxin paint. We also recommend that you avoid genital hair shaving/waxing/trimming during treatments to minimise the spread of MC.

DISCLAIMER:
This fact sheet is designed to provide you with information on Molluscum contagiosum. It is not intended to replace the need for a consultation with your doctor. All clients are strongly advised to check with their doctor about any specific questions or concerns they may have. Every effort has been taken to ensure that the information in this pamphlet is correct at the time of printing.
Last Updated November 2017