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Molluscum Contagiosum (cont.)

Molluscum Contagiosum Symptoms and Signs

The molluscum contagiosum rash begins as tiny painless papules (small raised bumps), each measuring about 2-5 mm in diameter.

  • The lesions typically appear as dome-shaped papules that have a waxy, smooth, or pearly surface. They are either white, pink or flesh-colored, and with time, the center develops a dimple (umbilicated) which can contain a thick white cheesy substance. This core may be squeezed out easily. There may be redness and scaling at the edges of a lesion from inflammation or from scratching.
  • Lesions may be located on almost any area of the skin. They are usually grouped in one or two areas, but they may be widely spread as well. In children, they commonly occur on the face, trunk, and limbs. Adults often get lesions on the genital area, the lower abdomen, the buttocks, and the inner thigh. Usually, fewer than 20 lesions appear, but several hundred are possible.
  • The lesions do not affect the palms or soles and only rarely affect the mucous membranes of the mouth.
  • Usually, there is no itching or tenderness, and there are no generalized symptoms such as fever, nausea, or weakness.
  • People with weakened immune systems can develop widespread large lesions that can be persistent and rapidly spreading. These lesions often appear on the face, and they can come together (coalesce) to form giant lesions. Individuals with a weakened immune system include patients with AIDS, cancer, or those taking medications such as steroids or those undergoing cancer chemotherapy that cause impairment of the body's defense mechanisms.
  • Though cases of severe molluscum contagiosum may indicate underlying infection with the HIV virus, most people who develop molluscum contagiosum have no such serious underlying medical problem.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2013

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Descriptions of molluscum contagiosum have been in the medical literature since 1817.

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