Identifying Symptoms of Molluscum Contagiosum | Treatment Options Offered by a Medical Dermatologist

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral rash common in children under the age of 11. The rash is characterized by pearly bumps on the skin. They may be red around the perimeter. Most people will get 10-20 bumps though people with weakened immune systems can see more bumps.

How do I get molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is spread easily from person to person and from one part of the body to another.

  • Clothing – Skin to skin contact or contact with an infected person’s clothing can spread the virus
  • Towels – Using towels belonging to someone with the virus can also spread it
  • Gym environments – People in gyms can contract the virus by using mats that have been infected

A person with these pearly bumps should not scratch or pick at them. This behavior can spread the virus to other parts of the body. Simply put, when the bumps are visible, they are contagious.

Treatment options

The bumps formed by molluscum contagiosum will typically disappear without intervention, but complete healing may take six months. If the bumps are bleeding, itching, or infected, they can be removed. A person may also have them removed if they are on a visible part of the body.
Bumps resulting from molluscum contagiosum can be removed with topical treatments, such as:

  • Aldara
  • Salicylic acid
  • Podophyllin toxin
  • Trichloroacetic acid

Other options include cryosurgery (freezing with liquid nitrogen) or surgical removal. Because of the many options available for treating molluscum contagiosum, it’s important to consult a qualified skin doctor, who can direct you toward the best treatment plan for your situation.

What should you do if you think you might have molluscum contagiosum?

Anyone who thinks they may have molluscum contagiosum should consult a dermatologist immediately due to the highly contagious nature of this virus. The bumps may also be warts or skin cancer, in which case a dermatologist can remove them.
People with the virus should avoid skin-to-skin contact, including sex and contact sports, while the bumps are present. They should not go to the gym because the virus can be spread through mats or equipment. They should not shave the affected skin or use shared towels or washcloths.  These steps can limit the spread of the virus until it resolves. It’s important to not only seek medical attention for this condition, but to help prevent the spread of it to others.

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