What is Molluscum Contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum virus, also known as MCV, is a viral skin infection, that causes small painless bumps on the skin. Skin bumps usually appear anywhere on the body two to seven weeks after exposure to infection, although in some patients it may take up to six months before symptoms are present. While it is more common in children, MCV can affect adults with a compromised immune system. Adults affected with MCV in the genital area are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease. MCV can be spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex as a result of skin contact with an infected area.
Causes Of MCV
MCV is a viral infection that may be spread through the following:
- Skin-to-skin contact
- Surface contact with contaminated material
- Sexual relations
Symptoms Of MCV
Patients with MCV often experience some of the following symptoms:
- Small, raised, round bumps on the skin
- Skin bumps that are red and inflamed
- Bumps that can be removed from the skin by scratching
- Pearl or skin-colored bumps in the genital area that are filled with fluid
The bumps may become itchy, irritated or sore, especially if scratched. Since this infection is spread through skin-to-skin contact, bumps may appear on the face, neck, abdomen, thighs, buttocks and nearly any other area of skin exposed to the virus.
Diagnosis Of MCV
Diagnosis of MCV is done by the examination of the skin bumps. A sample of the bump may be analyzed under a microscope to confirm diagnosis.
Complications Of MCV
MCV can be treated effectively in most cases and is not considered a serious health problem. Some patients may develop redness and inflammation of the bumps, which usually occurs as a result of an immune system reaction. Scratching the bumps can lead to other types of infection as well. If MCV infects the eyelids, conjunctivitis may develop as a result.
Treatment Of MCV
Bumps will usually go away on their own if left untreated, although this can take up to two years, during which time patients can still spread the infection to others. For this reason, most patients have the bumps removed by their doctor.
Treatment for MCV may include:
- Scraping (curettage)
- Freezing (cryotherapy)
- Laser therapy to remove skin growths and clear the infection
- Topical over-the-counter medication
- Prescription anti-viral cream
These procedures are usually performed using a topical anesthetic to reduce discomfort. Your doctor will recommend the best treatment or combination of treatments for you based on a thorough evaluation of your condition.
After treatment, it is important for patients to avoid scratching the treated area, and to keep the area clean in order to ensure proper healing and prevent the infection from recurring. Specific post-treatment instructions will be provided for you to help you return to an active and healthy lifestyle.
Prevention Of MCV
While MCV is easily spread, there are several steps that can be taken to prevent acquiring and spreading the MCV infection. These precautions include:
- Keeping hands clean to prevent spreading the virus
- Do no touch or scratch the bumps
- Do not share or borrow personal items
- Abstain from sexual intercourse
- Bandage the bumps if in physical contact with another person
By covering the bumps with bandages or clothing, skin-to-skin contact will be significantly reduced, which helps to prevent the spread of MCV.