Molluscum Contagiosum

Overview of Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the skin that forms painless lesions in any part of the body. It is caused by the poxvirus (Molluscum contagiosum)

The length of the virus varies from person to person. Molluscum contagiosum can recover on its own within 6-12 months without appearing to have any scars. The recovery time may prolong up to 4 years, depending on the severity of the disease. 

Molluscum Contagiosum Prevalence

It is most prevalent in children above the age of 10 years and older people over the age of 50 years. These two age groups are particularly more prone to this disease due to weak immunity. Overall, it accounts for 1% of all skin diseases. About  5%-8% of people suffering from  HIV may be as high as 33% if not treated in a timely.

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Signs and Symptoms of Molluscum Contagiosum

Signs and symptoms of molluscum contagiosum are the lesions that appear anywhere in the body, which is characterized by :

  • Small, raised, round and skin-colored
  • Lesions present at the top centre of the skin
  • Red and inflamed
  • Itchy
  • Easily removed by scratching or rubbing
  • Usually seen on the face, neck, armpits, arms, and tops of the hands in children
  • Appear on genitals, lower abdomen, and inner upper thighs in adults

Types of Molluscum Contagiosum

Causes of Molluscum Contagiosum

The poxvirus  transfers from one person to another via  sharing the things of infected person or fomites (inanimate virus-contaminated objects) like:

  • Towels
  • Shaving tools
  • Cloths
  • Swimming pool
  • Bathtubs
  • Sexual contact

Another reason for spreading a virus is by touching an infected person or a person starting to scratch their lesion.

The positive aspect of the Molluscum contagiosum virus is that it lives on the upper layer of the skin and doesn't expand to other parts of the body. That's why it cannot transfer through coughing and sneezing.

The nature of Molluscum contangism virus is different from other viruses like herpes viruses. It does not stay in the body for a long time that's why there is less chance of recurrence. 


Risk Factors of Molluscum Contagiosum

The following conditions are more likely to develop for contracting and transmitting molluscum contagiosum:

  • Young Children: It affects more in children over the age of 10 years more than others because of their weakened immune systems.
  • Warm and Humid Environment: The poxvirus increases in number due to the warm and humid climate which results in more breakouts on the skin.
  • Crowded Environments: People who live in small spaces like huts, tents, etc, and individuals who usually go to a crowded market may be at high risk. 
  • Atopic Dermatitis: It is also known as eczema. Individuals with this inflammatory skin condition may have a higher chance of contracting the Molluscum contagiosum
  • Weakened Immune System: If the person has a weakened immune system due to health problems such as HIV or any other condition may suffer from molluscum lesions.



The best way to prevent the molluscum contagiosum is to avoid contact with an infected person. Following suggestions can also be beneficial to minimize the spreading of lesions.

  • Wash your hands daily with warm water and soap.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, clothing, hairbrushes, or bar soaps.
  • Avoid using the things of another person that touches the skin, for example, sports knee caps, clothes, etc. 
  • Avoid poking at or touching the affected areas of skin where the blister exists.
  • Keep the blisters clean and covered.
  • Avoid shaving where blisters are present.
  • Avoid sexual contact when a person’s lesion is on their genitals. 


A dermatologist will do a physical examination of the patients with molluscum contagiosum. If a doctor suspects any sign of having this disease then a skin biopsy may be recommended. 

Skin Biopsy: Scrap the infected skin from the specific area and examine it under a light microscope. A doctor may also suggest blood tests if needed.

Treatment of Molluscum Contagiosum | When to Consult a Doctor

The molluscum contagiosum treatment is self-limited to infected individuals(if it is an acute disease). If the lesions become open or the person suffers from this disease due to any underlying atopic problem. In order to prevent this, instant therapy may be needed.

Treatment is highly recommendable when the lesions of the molluscum appear in the genital region (on or near the penis, vulva, vagina, or anus). Then immediately consult with a doctor because of having another sexual disease.

Below are the possible treatment options:

1. Home Remedies:

The molluscum contagiosum treatments initially begin at home. The most effective remedies are applying these natural herbs on infected area:

  • Coconut oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Oregano oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Garlic
  • Alcohol swabs

2. Physical removal of Lesions:

  The removal of lesions is conducted through the following therapies:

  • Cryotherapy: Freezing of lesions with liquid nitrogen
  • Curettage: Removal of tissues by scraping of lesions
  • Laser Therapy: To remove the superficial lesions through the machines

These are rapid treatments but need a skillful healthcare professional to perform this treatment. Also, require local anesthetics to numb the area. 

Note: Please do not try these procedures at home, otherwise it may spread to other regions of the body and cause bacterial infection.

3. Oral Therapy:

This therapy is preferable for children and those who don't want to do physical removal techniques like cryotherapy. The removal of lesions is done through oral cimetidine and also less painful procedures. 

4. Topical Therapy:

Topical therapy is a quite suitable and easy way to get rid of blisters. In this technique, each blister is treated individually by applying a cream or gel on the specific lesions only. The agents used for topical treatment are:

  • Podophyllotoxin cream (0.5%)
  • Iodine and salicylic acid
  • Potassium hydroxide
  • Tretinoin
  • Cantharidin (a blistering agent usually applied in an office setting)
  • Imiquimod (T cell modifier)

Note: Do not apply podophyllotoxin creams (0.5% )  to pregnant women’s skin because of potential risks to the fetus. Imiquimod is not for children's use because it may cause severe adverse effects.