Molluscum contagiosum is a very common skin disease that is caused by a virus. As the name implies - it is in fact contagious to the person who already has it as well as to others in their daily environment. The virus is spread by either skin to skin contact or coming into contact with a contaminated object like gym mats or pool lounge chairs or even bath towels. We counsel patients with this condition not to pick, scratch, rub or scrub over the lesions as this may in fact spread them to other locations on that person's body. This condition is most often seen in children but can also affect adults. They appear as small flesh colored or pink bumps and are usually shiny with a little depression in the middle - resembling a donut. They are usually painless but some people complain that they itch. They can appear on any part of the body but are most commonly found on the arms and legs or on the chest, abdomen or back. People with eczema can be more prone to getting this viral infection at the site of their rash. The lesions can resemble other skin conditions such as warts or chicken pox or even skin cancer.
This condition is self- limited and usually will clear itself when the body's immune system identifies the foreign virus and mounts an immune response. When this happens the lesions tend to become very red and often get larger and sore indicating that the immune system has been triggered and is starting to destroy the virus. It can take, on average, 12-18 months though for the immune system to do the job of clearing the virus. Some people prefer to wait it out but others seek treatment. There are treatments that can be done at home or in the office to try to get rid of the virus sooner. There are homeopathic topical treatments that are available over the counter that some have had success while others patients come to see us to have in-office topical treatments done. Liquid nitrogen can be used as well as a topical blistering medication - both have been proven to be helpful. It may take multiple treatments to take care of all the bumps as new ones can be developing and remain unseen for up to 7 weeks after the virus enters the skin. It takes time and patience but ultimately the bumps WILL go away!