Molluscum Contagiosum Facts (cont.)
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Molluscum contagiosum facts
- What is molluscum contagiosum?
- What causes molluscum contagiosum?
- What are risk factors for molluscum contagiosum?
- What are molluscum contagiosum symptoms and signs?
- How do physicians diagnose molluscum contagiosum?
- What is the treatment for molluscum contagiosum?
- Are there any home remedies for molluscum contagiosum?
- What is the prognosis of molluscum contagiosum?
- Is it possible to prevent molluscum contagiosum?
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
What causes molluscum contagiosum?
The cause is a virus, a member of the poxvirus family. The virus only survives in the skin, and when the lesions are gone, the person no longer is contagious.
What are risk factors for molluscum contagiosum?
The highest risk factor is when an uninfected person touches a skin lesion on an infected person's skin or contacts an item such as a towel that was recently used by an infected person. People with weakened immune systems are at risk for getting the infection and having it rapidly spread with larger lesions. Other people at high risk are wrestlers, swimmers, gymnasts, and people who use steam baths and saunas. It's also possible to transmit the infection sexually.
What are molluscum contagiosum symptoms and signs?
The first signs and symptoms of molluscum contagiosum are small painless papules (raised bumps) on the skin. It often appears as a raised, a pearly pinkish nodule; some nodules contain a dimple in the center. Most lesions are small, about 2-5 mm in diameter. Inside the nodule, sometimes there is a cheesy whitish core. The lesions may become itchy, sore, and reddened if scratched. The lesions can appear anywhere on the body (face, mouth, or vagina, for example).
How do physicians diagnose molluscum contagiosum?
Presumptive diagnosis is based on the person's history and physical exam. A skin biopsy that shows the viral infection is a definitive diagnosis usually made by a pathologist. This definitive diagnosis is sometimes helpful to distinguish molluscum contagiosum from other skin problems like herpes, genital warts (HPV), hives, or folliculitis.
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