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Molluscum Contagiosum Overview

Molluscum Contagiosum Overview

Molluscum contagiosum (sometimes called molluscum contagium) is a benign viral infection of the skin. It most commonly affects children, but also occurs in adolescents and adults.

Cause of Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a poxvirus. It is spread by person-to-person contact and through casual contact with contaminated objects, such as shared towels and sports equipment. In adults, the infection is often transmitted sexually. Scratching the lesions can spread the virus to surrounding skin.

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Signs and Symptoms of Molluscum Contagiosum

The skin lesions begin as tiny papules (bumps) and reach an average size of 6 millimeters. They are smooth, sometimes shiny and pink with a central dimple, and usually appear in groups. Usually there are less than a couple dozen lesions, but in some cases there can be a hundred or more. An irritated skin rash can develop around the papules. Individual lesions may heal without treatment after a few months, but the general outbreak can last anywhere from 6 months to 3 years.

Physician-developed and -monitored.
Original Date of Publication: 01 Sep 2000
Reviewed by: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 04 Dec 2007

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This page last modified: 27 Jul 2010

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