Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection that affects the top layers of the skin. The following article will help you understand more about this condition.
Molluscum contagiosum is a type of skin infection, commonly seen in children belonging to the age group of 1-10 years. It is caused by a type of DNA poxvirus called molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV), which infects only humans. There are four types of this virus, namely MCV-1 to MCV-4, of which MCV-1 and MCV-2 are the more prevalent ones.
The infection is characterized by the formation of wart-like, dome-shaped, skin-colored papules. They are generally painless, but are extremely contagious, and the infection easily spreads through direct and indirect contact with the affected skin.
The typical symptoms include the development of one or more, small, painless papules on the skin. They appear as small, waxy, round bumps, and may even have a small indentation in the middle. These flesh-colored bumps on skin are about 2-5 millimeters wide. They do not cause any inflammation or reddening. If they do become red, it may be only due to excessive scratching. These lesions contain a white, waxy fluid inside them. They may occur in a line, especially if they were scratched by the person. Such groups of bumps are called crops.
In children, the contagious nodules commonly appear on the trunk, arms and legs. They rarely appear on the palms and feet. In some children, they also appear on the face, neck, armpits and genital areas (non sexually).
In adults, these infections are more common in the groin, thighs, as well as the genital and the lower abdominal areas. The genital papules usually occur due to sexual contact.
Molluscum contagiosum is more common in children, mainly due to the lack of proper hygiene. Once the virus is contracted, the nodules continue to spread, and take about a year to get resolved completely. Sharing towels, clothes, toys, and other belongings; close contact while playing, fighting, etc.; and poor hygiene leads to an easy transfer of the virus from one child to another.
The viral infection causing this condition is limited to the skin surface. After the head of the lesion is destroyed, the infection is gone forever. Most of the time, one does not require any specific treatment, as the condition resolves on its own. It generally lasts for about 6-8 weeks. However, in some rare cases the infection may persist for 1-5 years.
Treatment is essential if the papules bleed, as well as in case of secondary infections, chronic keratoconjuctivitis, etc. The cure is to get rid of the skin growths. The virus lives only in the top layer of the skin, and once the growth is gone, there is no infection. They do not remain dormant in the body, and will not reappear till one is infected again.
Some of the methods to get rid of such infectious growths are:
- Application of Australian lemon myrtle dissolved in olive oil
- Regular application of 10% benzoyl peroxide cream for 4 weeks
- Salicylic acid or other over-the-counter wart medicines
- Curette scraping
- Laser therapy
You can even try application of tea tree oil, colloidal silver, olive leaf extract, etc. However, cryotherapy is one of the most effective treatment for this condition.
The susceptibility to this disease is higher in immunosuppressed people, like those with HIV/AIDS. Excessive scratching may lead to secondary bacterial infection of the lesions. If you find an appearance of such nodules in children, visit a doctor for treatment. This is essential because the papules are highly contagious, and may spread to the other children in school.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.