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Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a viral infection of the skin. It is caused by poxvirus called the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV). Molluscum contagiosum lesions are flesh-colored, dome-shaped, and pearly in appearance. They are often 1–5 millimeters in diameter, with a dimpled center.

The MC rash initially appears as smooth, pearly to flesh-colored, dome-shaped papules. With time, the center becomes soft and indented (umbilicated) with a white curdlike core.

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Molluscum contagiosum (MC) that was first described in 1817. It is common worldwide and accounts for about 1% of all skin disorders in the United States.

Typically, the lesion of molluscum begins as a small, painless papule that may become raised up to a pearly, flesh-colored nodule. The papule often has a dimple in the center.

This common viral disease has a higher incidence in children, sexually active adults, the infection is most common in children aged one to ten years old. MC can affect any area of the skin but is most common on the trunk of the body, arms, and legs. It is spread through direct contact or shared items such as clothing or towels.

The virus commonly spreads through skin-to-skin contact. This includes sexual contact or touching or scratching the bumps and then touching the skin.
It primarily affects children (boys more often than girls).

Molluscum Contagiosum Causes

Molluscum contagiosum is transmitted by direct contact, either person to person or by shared items, such as clothing, towels, and washcloths.
Outbreaks have occurred in the following settings:

  • swimming pools,
  • wrestling matches,
  • during surgery, by a surgeon with a hand lesion (sore),
  • having tattoos (rare), and
  • Sexually: It is likely that genital lesions are sexually transmitted.

Lesions develop within two to three months after exposure. Some doctors consider MC a sexually transmitted disease in adolescents and adults and recommend that people with genital MC be tested for other STDs. However, not all genital lesions in adults are sexually transmitted. 

Usually, there is no itching or tenderness, and there are no generalized symptoms such as fever, nausea, or weakness.

Medical Treatment

Removal of lesions reduces the rate of spread to other people as well as from one part of the body to another.

Genital lesions in adults should be treated in order to prevent spread through sexual contact.

The most popular treatments are scraping of the lesions (called curettage) or removal using heat (called cautery) or cold (called cryotherapy, a procedure performed with liquid nitrogen).

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In children, the papules typically appear on the face, neck, armpits, hands and arms. In adults, molluscum contagiosum may be a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and is usually seen on the genitals, lower abdomen, inner upper thighs and buttocks.