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Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is an infection caused by a virus. Symptoms of Molluscum Contagiosum usually appear between 1 and 3 months after a person is infected with the virus.

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a large DNA poxvirus that produces a wart like lesion. The incubation period is 2-7 weeks and lesions may last from months to years without treatment. The lesions appear as small flesh colored umbilicated papules that are very discrete. Occasionally there is a small rim of inflammation around the individual warts.

A cheesy material may be extracted from the lesions and viral intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies may be seen in the keratinocytes (Henderson-Paterson bodies)

Molluscum is most common in school aged children and transmission is by fomites, close contact, and autoinoculation. In adults transmission is often by sexual contact and a child with molluscum in the genital area should be investigated for possible abuse. Cell mediated immunity appears to be important in host defenses and immunocompromised patients may have extensive cases. There have been no systemic or constitutional symptoms associated with molluscum in these individuals. Patients with atopic dermatitis may also have extensive cases of molluscum.

The most common symptoms are: small, round, firm bumps on the skin. The bumps tend to develop on the sex organs, abdomen, or thighs. The bumps may be pink, pearly-white, or the same color as the rest of your skin in the affected area. There may be one bump or many bumps. Usually the bumps do not become painful unless they become infected. Sometimes the bumps itch a little. The infection is confined to the skin and does not cause serious problems.

Molluscum Contagiosum can be treated by freezing the individual bumps with liquid nitrogen. Freezing the bumps can cause side effects. Some of the side effects are: irritation, burning and scarring. If Molluscum Contagiosum is not treated, the virus may persist for several months or for as long as a few years and can be transmitted to others during this time.

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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005