The Molluscum contagiosum skin virus is transmitted from direct skin-to-skin contact and does not require sexual contact for transmission.
Overview of Molluscum Contagiosum
Molluscum Contagiosum is a disease caused by a poxvirus of the Molluscipox virus family.
A contagious viral infection of the skin, called Molluscum Contagiosum, can affect people of both sexes and of all ages.
Although contagious, Molluscum Contagiosum is not harmful, and recorded reports of the disease date back to the early 1800s.
The virus lives in the epidermal layer of the skin and, upon infecting skin cells, can cause them to discolor and swell.
People who suffer from eczema may also suffer from Molluscum Contagiosum in the same area.
Molluscum Contagiosum shows as tiny indented bumps on the skin that can be yellow, flesh-tone, pearly or translucent in color.
These small round bumps can appear alone or in a group and may feel itchy.
The bumps commonly appear on the trunk, face and limbs, and in sexually active adults, they can appear in the genital area.
Molluscum Contagiosum is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.
It is common for children to contract the disease through the use of playground equipment and other infected toys.
Athletes who have close physical contact during their sport, such as wrestlers, have also reported transmission.
Patients may contract the virus from their doctor, if the doctor is unknowingly carrying the virus in small lesions on their hands.
A person may also contract the disease through sexual contact with an infected partner.
It is estimated that less than 5% of children and less than 2% of adults in the United States have Molluscum Contagiosum.
This percentage increases for people who suffer from HIV. It is estimated that as much as 20% of those inflicted with HIV have Molluscum Contagiosum.
It is more difficult to treat HIV carriers who contract Molluscum Contagiosum.
This group of people is also prone to skin disfiguration after the surface bumps of the virus have diminished.
Molluscum Contagiosum Treatment Options
If diagnosed with Molluscum Contagiosum, treatment is not necessary, as your body’s own immune system will attack the virus and eliminate the visual signs.
To expedite the elimination of the bumps associated with the disease, and to help prevent the spreading of the virus, the following treatment options are available:
Cryosurgery or Cryotherapy is a treatment method that involves freezing of the infected area.
By applying liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide to the area for a few seconds, the surface and subsurface of viral growth is frozen.
This treatment usually stings and, depending on your tolerance level, can be painful.
Electrocautery treatment removes the growth by burning it off and sealing the blood vessels with an electrically charged probe. This treatment can also be painful, but use of a local anesthesia, such as Novocain, may be administered.
Applying a topical medication such as salicylic acid (the same medicine found in corn removal pads) or cantharidin may be used to treat the growths. Cantharidin may also deter the virus from spreading to neighboring skin.
Your health care physician may also prescribe oral medications such as Griseofulvin, Interferon or Cimetidine if topical solutions or self healing are proving ineffective or taking a prolonged period of time.
While these medications are not formulated specifically for the treatment of Molluscum Contagiosum, they may prove helpful in difficult cases.