Molluscum contagiosum (also called water wart) is skin disease caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (or MCV), a DNA poxvirus. This condition is commonly found in young children and affects the body, arms, and legs. It is spread through direct contact, saliva, or shared articles of clothing. more...
In adults, molluscum infections are often sexually transmitted and usually affects the genitals, lower abdomen, buttocks, and inner thighs. In rare cases, molluscum infections are also found in the lips and mouth.
The symptoms of molluscum contagiosum infection include flesh-colored, pea-sized or smaller bumps (called lesions) with dimpled center that may itch, become irritated, tender or painful. In about 10% of the cases, eczema develops around the lesions.
In most patients, however, these wart-like lesions do not have noticeable symptoms. These lesions are prone to secondary bacterial infections, which may obscure or complicate the original condition.
The central waxy opaque core of the lesions contain the virus. In a process called auto-inoculation, the lesion breaks to release the virus which subsequently cause new lesions at a different part of the skin. Children are particularly susceptible to auto-inoculation, and may have widespread clusters of lesions.
Molluscum contagiosum infections usually go away by itself within 6 months to 2 years, so that the condition may not warrant specific treatment. For mild cases, over-the-counter wart medicines, such as salicylic acid may shorten infection duration. A person can also use acne treatments, such as a mild or soft scrub when showering, or application of tretinoin cream (vitamin A acid).
Medical treatments for this condition include cryosurgery, where liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and destroy lesions, as well as scraping them off with a curette. Side-effects from these treatments include permanent discoloration and scarring. The topical blistering agent cantharadin applied by a doctor is sometime used in children as the previously mentioned treatments are painful. Pulsed dye laser treatment offers an effective and painless, but relatively expensive way to eliminate individual lesions.
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