Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a viral infection that causes the formation of papules (solid protuberances) on the skin and rarely on the mucous membranes. Also commonly known as water warts or molluscipox virus (MCV), there are three molluscum contagiousm stages, of which the development of a small white or red bump on the skin is the first.
- 1 Causes of molluscum contagiosum
- 2 Contagious molluscum contagiosum
- 3 Signs and symptoms of molluscum contagiosum
- 4 Is molluscum contagiosum serious and dangerous?
- 5 How to recognize molluscum contagiosum?
- 6 Treatment for molluscum contagiosum
- 7 Home remedies for molluscum contagiosum
- 8 Complications of molluscum contagiosum
- 9 How long does it last? Prognosis of the patient with molluscum contagiosum
- 10 Prevention of molluscum contagiosum
Causes of molluscum contagiosum
Molluscum contagiosum originates from a virus of the Poxvirus family.
The MCV-1 affects mostly children and is the most common in Europe.
The MCV-2 is the one that affects adults and the rarest.
The contagion can occur in different ways.
It is a frequent infection in children, especially in those suffering from atopic dermatitis.
It very rarely affects mucous membranes such as:
- Genital or pubic area
Contagious molluscum contagiosum
The contagion is caused by:
- Direct contact between the skin / mucous membranes of two people
- Contact with infected objects.
This disease can spread through contact with infected objects, such as:
There have been cases in which the virus has been transmitted:
- For sharing bath towels or sponges
- By physical contact during a fight
In adults, the virus also spreads through sexual intercourse.
Injuries to the genitals can be confused with herpes or warts.
Unlike herpes injuries, these lesions are painless.
People with a weakened immune system (due to diseases such as AIDS ) can have a rapid spread of the virus.
Going to gyms and swimming in public pools is a risk factor for mollusc transmission.
The spread of injuries can occur by autoinoculation:
- Through an injury, the virus is transmitted to other areas of healthy skin
- Through shaving or hair removal
Signs and symptoms of molluscum contagiosum
The only sign of molluscum contagiosum is the appearance on the skin of meat papules, white or pink. A halo is rarely formed around the outer edge.
The diameter of these skin lesions is usually 3 to 5 mm but can reach up to 3 cm.
These protuberances have a shiny or pearly appearance.
A small dimple (called umbilication) forms in the center of each mollusk.
The MC can manifest itself as:
- A small papule isolated
- In a group (it is common, usually around 20 lesions are formed close to each other)
- In line
Most people suffer between 1 and 20 mollusks.
It can develop almost anywhere on the skin.
In children, it appears mainly in:
- Arms (including the armpits)
In adults, it usually appears in:
- Genital area
- Year (anal area)
- Rarely, they appear around the eyes or mouth
They can appear anywhere on the body, except in the palms of the hands and the sole of the foot.
In pregnant women, the most affected area is the genital area.
The protuberances can be so numerous as to cover:
- Genital and abdominal area
These are usually painless, but can sometimes cause symptoms, such as:
By scratching the papules, you can cause an injury that can cause pain and worsen the infection.
Is molluscum contagiosum serious and dangerous?
This disease is not serious or dangerous, but it can be annoying.
How to recognize molluscum contagiosum?
The doctor can recognize the spots easily, so it is not necessary to carry out an examination. The lumps should not be confused with warts, as these:
- They present a rough surface
- They do not have a central core
To make the diagnosis: the material of the central nucleus can be extirpated and analyzed under a microscope.
Occasionally, a solitary lesion may present an atypical appearance, in which case a biopsy may be required for histological examination.
An entire pustule is removed and all the material is examined under a microscope.
The differential diagnosis should exclude:
2. Warts (caused by the human papillomavirus )
3. Lichen planus
7. Papular urticaria
8. Vesicles by Herpes Zoster
Treatment for molluscum contagiosum
Dermatologists usually recommend a treatment for molluscum contagiosum that helps prevent the following complications:
1. Propagation to other parts of the body
2. The contagion of other people
3. Excessive growth in people with weakened immune systems
Treatment may not be advisable for children, due to possible unwanted side effects. The lumps usually disappear without treatment.
However, most adults should receive medical treatment. People with a weakened immune system should also follow the treatment, otherwise, the lumps will not disappear.
There are many treatment options. The dermatologist prescribes the most effective depending on several factors:
• Health status
• Location of stains
• Other considerations
Outpatient treatments that the dermatologist can perform to treat molluscum contagiosum include:
• Cryosurgery: the doctor freezes the protuberances with liquid nitrogen.
• Scraping or curettage: the dermatologist uses a small instrument called a curette (spoon-shaped) to remove skin lesions . A local anesthetic is applied and one hour later the papules are removed (scraped) without pain.
• Pulsed laser: pulsed laser treatment is a new solution for the treatment of molluscum contagiosum. This treatment uses a powerful beam of light to destroy the cells that make up each lesion. As a side effect, the ray of light leaves a bruise that disappears after one or two weeks. Most people only need one or two pulsed laser sessions.
What ointment to use to eliminate molluscum contagiosum?
Ambulatory topical treatment (applied directly to the skin): the dermatologist uses several acids and solutions to treat the papules. These substances destroy the upper layers of the skin.
The trichloroacetic acid is often used to treat people with a weakened immune system.
When a patient presents many bumps or large growths, the dermatologist can repeat the treatment every 3-6 weeks until all the papules disappear.
These procedures cause some discomfort and may leave spots on the skin.
Other medications prescribed by the dermatologist for domestic use are:
- Salicylic acid gel
Salicylic acid is applied to the lesions once or twice a week for 4 weeks. The main side effect is the pain.
- Immunomodulatory Drugs: The imiquimod (Aldara). This cream that helps the immune system fight the virus. This medication is effective and can also be used to treat chronic warts and some forms of skin cancer. The imiquimod-based cream should be applied at night to act throughout the night.
In the morning it is removed by rinsing.
The treatment should be repeated 2 or 3 days a week for approximately 2 weeks.
Among the side effects of this treatment are erythema, pruritus, and minor burns.
• Retinoid medications applied on the skin. Patients use this medication to treat the bumps according to the doctor’s instructions. Among the side effects of treatment with retinoids is dermatitis.
- Antiviral drugs (Cidofovir cream). The cream is applied to each of the papules 1 time a day for 5 days. The treatment can be repeated for up to 8 weeks.
The main side effects are: erythema, pain, and pruritus.
During the treatment of molluscum contagiosum it is possible that new papules appear when the “old” ones disappear.
Can skin rashes caused by molluscum contagiosum be burst or squeezed?
A papule caused by molluscum contagiosum should not burst or squeeze because it contains viruses. Puncturing the papules may promote the spread of the disease.
Home remedies for molluscum contagiosum
Tea tree oil
The oil tea tree is one of the most used and available to treat molluscum contagiosum home remedies.
This product has important properties, such as antibacterial and antiseptic, essential to treat molluscs.
The ointment is a powerful astringent (reduces secretions), so it reduces the growth of the lesions. It can:
- Use the oil directly on the infected area
- Pour it in the water of the bathtub
cider vinegar Apple cider vinegar is very popular because it fights bacteria naturally. This liquid is also used to treat molluscum contagiosum:
- A cotton swab dips in the apple cider vinegar
- It is applied directly on the protuberance
- Next, the injury is sold
It is a useful remedy for children, especially if it is carried out before bedtime.
- Apply a paste of garlic on the infected area
- Then, put a bandage
- Remove the bandage before showering
- Wash the area carefully
You can also use garlic capsules.
Among the natural treatments are several combinations of vitamins that represent a good home remedy.
You can use a cream based on vitamin A and apply once or twice a day on the affected area.
Vitamins A and E may be useful in this case.
Another remedy is to apply tincture of iodine twice a day to promote the detachment of the lesion.
Complications of molluscum contagiosum
Although these are exceptional cases, bacterial infections aggravate molluscum contagiosum.
To reduce the risk of bacterial infection or the spread of molluscum contagiosum, it is important not to squeeze or irritate the papules.
It is not necessary to apply special creams or lotions, just follow the usual hygiene practices.
What happens if molluscum contagiosum is not treated?
Molluscum contagiosum is a delicate and self-limiting skin infection. If it is not treated it can last several months, but in the end it disappears. The duration of treatment varies depending on the person.
How long does it last? Prognosis of the patient with molluscum contagiosum
Injuries caused by molluscum contagiosum can last from a few months to a few years.
These lesions disappear on their own without scarring, unless the affected area is scratched excessively.
The complete disappearance of all injuries takes place at 6-18 months. The problem may persist in immunosuppressed people.
It is possible that the disease reappears.
Prevention of molluscum contagiosum
People with molluscum contagiosum should avoid having sex to avoid infecting their partner.
The use of condoms is not enough to prevent infection, since it leaves unprotected certain parts of the body that may be infected.