Molluscum contagiosum

Definition of Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection that causes raised, pearl-like papules or nodules on the skin.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus that is a member of the poxvirus family. You can get the infection in a number of different ways.

Symptoms

Typically, the lesion of molluscum begins as a small, painless papule that may become raised up to a pearly, flesh-colored nodule. The papule often has a dimple in the center. These papules may occur in lines, where the person has scratched. Scratching or other irritation causes the virus to spread in a line or in groups, called crops.

Signs and tests

Diagnosis is based on the appearance of the lesion and can be confirmed by a skin biopsy. The health care provider should examine the lesion to rule out other disorders and to determine other underlying disorders.

Treatment

In people with normal immune systems, the disorder usually goes away on its own over a period of months to years.

Expectations (prognosis)

Molluscum contagiosum lesions may persist from a few months to a few years. These lesions ultimately disappear without scarring, unless there is excessive scratching, which may leave marks.

Review

Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Associate, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. – 7/17/2007

Molluscum contagiosum - close-up
Molluscum contagiosum - close-up of the chest
Molluscum on the chest
Molluscum, microscopic appearance
Molluscum contagiosum on the face

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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