Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum Contagiosum is a common skin disease caused by a virus which affects the top layers of the skin. The name Molluscum Contagiosum implies that the virus develops growths that are easily spread by skin contact. Similar to warts, this virus belongs to the poxvirus family and enters the skin through small breaks of hair follicles. It does not affect any internal organs.

What do Molluscum look like?

Molluscum are usually small flesh-colored or pink dome-shaped growths that often become red or inflamed. They may appear shiny and have a small indentation in the center. Because they can spread by skin-to-skin contact, molluscum are usually found in areas of skin that touch each other such as the folds in the arm or the groin. They are also found in clusters on the chest, abdomen, and buttocks and can involve the face and eyelids.

In people with immune system diseases, the molluscum may be very large in size and number, especially on the face. To confirm the diagnosis of molluscum, a dermatologist might scrape some cells from the growth and look at them under a microscope.

How do you get Molluscum?

The Molluscum Virus is transmitted from the skin of one person who has these growths to the skin of another person. It occurs most often in cases where skin-to-skin contact is frequent, in young children — especially among siblings, or in swimming pools. If growths are present in the genital area, Molluscum can be sexually transmitted.

Who is most at risk to get Molluscum?

People exposed to the Molluscum virus through skin-to-skin contact have an increased risk of developing these growths. Children tend to get molluscum more often than adults. It is common in young children who have not yet developed immunity to the virus. Molluscum also seems to be more common in tropical climates where warmth and humidity favor the growth of the virus.