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Molluscum Contagiosum

What Is Molluscum Contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a common skin infection caused by a virus. It occurs worldwide and primarily affects children and young adults. The skin lesions characteristically appear as raised, rounded bumps that are white, pink, or flesh-colored. Transmission of the virus occurs by direct person-to-person contact or via contact with infected objects. It is frequently diagnosed by a health-care provider based on its characteristic appearance, although testing may be needed in cases of uncertainty. MC is a benign, self-limited infection in healthy individuals, and treatment is not always required. However, certain people (for example, those with weakened immune systems) frequently require treatment as the skin lesions may be more persistent and widespread. Maintaining good personal hygiene and avoiding direct contact with infected individuals can help prevent this viral skin infection. MC generally carries an excellent prognosis.

What Is the Cause of Molluscum Contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV), a member of the poxvirus family. Four types (I-IV) of molluscum contagiosum virus have been identified, with MCV-I being the most common cause of infection. Humans are the only known reservoir for this virus. The molluscum contagiosum virus occurs worldwide, but it is more common in developing countries, especially those in the tropics. It is estimated to account for 1% of all skin disorders diagnosed in the United States. Molluscum contagiosum infection is most common in children and young adults, with males being affected more commonly than females. It is most common in children 1 to 10 years of age. Individuals with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised), such as those with AIDS, also have a higher incidence of infection. Atopic dermatitis is also thought to be a risk factor for the development of molluscum contagiosum.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/31/2017

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Molluscum Contagiosum »

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

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