Molluscum Contagiosum – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Methods

Molluscum contagiosum consists of small, harmless growths caused by a virus that is a member of the poxvirus family. They resemble pimples with a waxy, pinkish look and a small central pit. This is a common infection in children. It is frequently seen on the face, neck, arm pit, arms, and hands but may occur anywhere on the body except the palms and soles. The name molluscum contagiosum implies that the virus develops growths that are easily spread by skin contact. Similar to warts, this virus belongs to the poxvirus family and enters the skin through small breaks of hair follicles. It is not a serious disease and usually clears up within a few months. It can, however, last for up to two years. There are 4 types of Molluscum contagiosum virus, MCV-1 to -4, with MCV-1 being the most prevalent and MCV-2 seen usually in adults and often transmitted. The incidence of MC infections in young children is around 17% and peaks between 2-12 years of age. In adults, molluscum infections are often transmitted and usually affects the genitals, lower abdomen, buttocks, and inner thighs.

There is no single perfect treatment for molluscum contagiosum. There is usually no inflammation and subsequently no redness unless the person has been digging or scratching at the lesions. In the mature molluscum, the top of the nodule may be opened with a sterile needle and a small waxy core can be seen and squeezed out of the lesion. In rare cases, molluscum infections are also found on the lips and mouth. It frequently induces a type of dermatitis in the affected areas, which are dry, pink and itchy. Molluscum contagiosum may rarely leave tiny pit-like scars. The incubation period is usually shorter. This is suggested by the fact that while viral particles are noted in the basal layer, viral DNA replication and the formation of new viral particles do not occur until the spindle and granular layers of the epidermis are involved. The virus replicates in the cytoplasm of epithelial cells producing cytoplasmic inclusions, and it may cause enlargement of infected cells. Molluscum contagiosum virus can be found worldwide with a higher distribution in the tropical areas. The disease is more prevalent in children with the lesions involving the face, trunk, and extremities.

Causes of Molluscum contagiosum

The common causes and risk factor’s of Molluscum contagiosum include the following:

A Molluscum contagiosum virus that is a member of the poxvirus family.

Contact with contaminated objects, such as toys, doorknobs or faucet handles.

Scratching or rubbing the papules.

Physical contact with an infected individual or material (fomites, for example shared clothing or towels).

Multiple members within a family.

Skin-to-skin contact (close contact) with an infected person.

Contact with an affected partner.

Symptoms of Molluscum contagiosum

Some sign and symptoms related to Molluscum contagiosum are as follows:

Pink, pearl-like spots on the face, arms and legs, which can be 1 to 5mm in diameter.


Irritated skin lesions.

Eczema around the bumps.

Have a dimple in the center.

The papules typically appear on the face, neck, armpits, hands and arms.

Treatment of Molluscum contagiosum

Here is list of the methods for treating Molluscum contagiosum:

Medications, such as those used to remove warts, may be helpful in removal of lesions.

Freezing the lumps.

Antiseptic applied to the affected areas is helpful only if local infection occurs – which shows as painful red areas around the molluscum spots.

Removing the viral material in the center by scraping the center briskly (curettage).

Surgical treatments include cryosurgery, in which liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and destroy lesions, as well as scraping them off with a curette.

Pricking the lumps.

Other treatments include pricking the mollusca with a strong chemical that causes the contents to burst out, (this can be painful and may leave scars); and scraping off the mollusca (cutterage).