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Molluscum Contagiosum: Scary Name, Simple Treatment

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum (m. contagiosum) is a big, scary-sounding name for what is actually a relatively harmless virus more commonly known as water warts. The m. contagiosum virus produces small, painless bumps on the skin that are white or pink, firm to the touch, and dome-shaped with a dimple in the middle. These bumps may appear alone or in patches of up to 20 almost anywhere on the body, most commonly on the arms, legs, torso, genitals, face, or abdomen.

Because the skin bumps caused by m. contagiosum have a distinct appearance, your doctor can easily diagnose the infection just by looking at the affected area. Our experienced board certified dermatologists at Windsor wanted to share treatment options if you or your child is diagnosed with this virus.

How is it treated?

  1. contagiosum often goes away without treatment after a few months or a year with no permanent impact. However, you may need treatment if you have:
  • Lesions on your face and neck.
  • A pre-existing skin disease.
  • Serious concerns about spreading the virus.
  • A weakened immune system.

The most effective treatments for m. contagiosum include:

  • Cryotherapy: Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze each bump.
  • Curettage: A small tool is used to pierce and scrape the bumps away.
  • Laser therapy: A low-powered laser is used to destroy each bump.
  • Topical therapy: Creams containing low concentrations of acids or chemicals are applied to the bumps so they dissolve over time.

Depending on the size and number of bumps you have, you may need multiple treatments over the course of several weeks or months. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe creams or ointments for you to use at home between treatments.

Who’s at risk?

Anyone can get m. contagiosum, but certain groups of people are more likely to become infected than others, including:

  • Children between the ages of 1 and 10.
  • People who live in tropical climates.
  • People with weakened immune systems.
  • People who have atopic dermatitis, a common form of eczema.
  • Athletes who participate in sports such as wrestling or football where skin-to-skin contact is common.

How is it spread?

  1. contagiosum is contagious as long as lesions are visible. You can get it by touching the lesions of an infected person. Children can get the virus during normal play with other children who have the virus. Teens and adults are more likely to become infected through sexual contact with those who have the virus. Plus, you can spread the lesions from one part of your body to the other through excessive scratching.

The virus can survive on surfaces that have been touched by an infected person. So it’s important to never share towels, wash cloths, clothes, sports equipment, hair brushes, razors and other personal items with anyone.

No matter what your skin care needs are, Windsor Dermatology will work with you to provide a solution. We have an excellent team of boardcertified dermatologists who take pride in their work and strive to offer the highest quality care. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and learn more about the services we offer.

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