Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum Contagiosum

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the skin. It is common in children, and in the past, was only associated with them. However in recent years, it has developed into an STD (sexually transmitted disease) in adults.

It is not a dangerous condition.

What does molluscum contagiosum look like?

Molluscum contagiosum appears as small, flesh-coloured or pink spots on the skin. These are sometimes mistaken for warts, but tend to have a smooth, shiny surface, and a depression in the middle.

When found in children, they can appear on the chin, chest, abdomen, face, legs, and arms. When it occurs in adults, it usually appears on the genital area, inner thighs, and lower abdomen.

How is it transmitted?

In children, molluscum contagiosum is transmitted through shared clothing and towels, or through person-to-person contact. For this reason, its transmission is associated with places like swimming pools.

In adults, the most common way in which molluscum contagiosum is transmitted is through sexual contact.

If I get molluscum contagiosum, how long will I be infectious?

As this is not known for certain, you should assume that you are infectious as long as you still have the virus.

Can molluscum contagiosum lead to cancer?

No. Molluscum contagiosum is benign (non-cancerous).

How do I get rid of molluscum contagiosum?

Usually, in cases of people with normal immune systems, molluscum contagiosum disappears by itself. In more extreme cases, medical treatment may be required.

Your doctor will arrange the appropriate treatment, if treatment is necessary. The options include:

Molluscum contagiosum can cause complications in people who are HIV positive.

How can an adult keep from getting molluscum contagiosum?

The most common way molluscum contagiosum is transmitted in adults is through sexual contact. Therefore if you are not in a monogamous relationship, where you know your partner is uninfected, always practise safe sex. Wear a condom but remember, a condom cannot protect areas such as the scrotum or the buttocks from molluscum contagiosum. If in any doubt, abstain from sex until you or your partner are checked out.

While molluscum contagiosum is not considered a dangerous disease, always seek medical advice if you notice anything unusual around your genital area.

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