Molluscum contagiosum is a mollusc wart. This nodular skin condition is primarily seen in children.
What is a molluscum contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is a mollusc wart. The benign appearances occur in clusters on the skin and are also called mollusca contagiosa or mollusks. Mollusc warts are skin-colored or reddish in color. They range in size from a pinhead to a pea. See nonprofitdictionary for Coronary Heart Disease (abbreviated as CHD).
A dent in the middle is considered to be a typical feature of Mollusca contagiosa. For this reason, the mollusks were also called mollusc warts. Children and young people are particularly affected by the occurrence of Mollusca contagiosa. But young adults also sometimes suffer from molluscs when they are sexually active. Molluscs are found all over the world, with their abundance increasing in tropical and subtropical regions.
Molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) is responsible for the occurrence of mollusc warts. This is a DNA virus that belongs to the poxvirus family. Just like the real smallpox, the molluscum contagiosum virus belongs to the poxviruses that are responsible for the occurrence of the dangerous smallpox.
Molluscum contagiosum is transmitted through small skin defects, which means that mollusc warts are considered highly contagious. Infection usually occurs through direct physical contact. This can be the case with children in kindergarten or at the swimming pool, for example. In young adults, on the other hand, mollusca contagiosa often appear in the intimate area because they are usually transmitted during sexual intercourse.
Indirect infection, such as using the same towel or piece of clothing, is also possible, but is much less common. The incubation period of the skin disease varies between two and seven weeks. Previous illnesses such as neurodermatitis or a weakening of the immune system are considered to favor the outbreak of molluscs. Other risk factors are HIV infections or taking immunosuppressive drugs that suppress the immune system.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
An infection with the molluscum contagiosum virus becomes noticeable through the appearance of numerous mollusc warts in certain areas of the body. This can be the face, neck, torso, armpits, eyelids, and genitals.
Mollusca contagiosa appear on the genitals, the lower abdominal region or on the thighs if the infection occurs through sexual intercourse. If the patients also suffer from a disease of their immune system, the molluscs sometimes reach a diameter of around three centimeters.
Inside the dent typical of mollusc warts, a tallowy content accumulates. This contains a large number of infected cells. Some patients also suffer from itching from time to time . Redness, swelling or soreness can also occur. Mollusca contagiosa usually do not cause pain.
Diagnosis & course of disease
If mollusca contagiosa is suspected, a dermatologist should be consulted. He can already recognize the mollusks by their typical appearance. In the early stages, however, it can be confused with other diseases or conditions such as common warts, genital warts, fatty deposits on the skin or skin cysts.
If there are doubts as to whether molluscum contagiosum is actually responsible for the skin disease, there is the option of a tissue sample. This is taken from the patient and then examined under a microscope in a laboratory. This makes it possible to rule out malignant skin changes. A punch biopsy can also be performed for a histological examination.
This gives the physician the opportunity to detect intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies within the HE stain. Since molluscum contagiosum is a benign skin disease, the course is usually positive. If the defense system is in order, the mollusks can regress by themselves.
However, if there is a disease or weakness in the immune system, it is conceivable that the mollusc warts will spread to the entire skin. In the case of a large number of Mollusca contagiosa, medicine speaks of Eczema molluscatum. In addition, the warts can reappear at any time.
Due to the molluscum contagiosum, patients suffer from warts that appear on different parts of the body. The exact symptoms and complications of this disease depend very much on the region affected, so that there are not always restrictions in everyday life. Molluscum contagiosum can lead to symptoms and limitations, especially on the fingers or on visible areas of the skin.
This usually leads to swelling and redness. Furthermore, the affected regions may be itchy and feel sore. In most cases, however, those affected do not suffer from pain. However, the symptoms themselves can lead to a feeling of shame or further restrictions in everyday life. As a result, certain activities may no longer be possible for the person concerned.
However, complications usually only occur when it comes to malignant skin changes that can negatively affect health. With the help of interventions, the warts can usually be removed relatively easily. There are no particular complications. In most cases, the life expectancy of the patient is not reduced by this disease.
When should you go to the doctor?
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin lesion that occurs mostly in children. If warts or abnormalities of the skin appear, a doctor should be consulted. Since the pathogens are highly contagious, caution should also be exercised in physical contact.
Other children in particular must be protected from infection. If the symptoms spread over the body of the sick child or if they increase in size, a doctor is needed. Swelling, bleeding, reddening of the skin and itching should be examined by a doctor. If the itching leads to open wounds, sterile wound care is required.
If the parents of the child cannot guarantee this to a large extent, a doctor should be consulted. Alternatively, there is a risk of sepsis. This increases the risk of the child dying prematurely. Pain, discomfort and a loss of zest for life are signs of a health impairment in the child.
So that there is no further deterioration in well-being, a doctor is needed. If behavioral problems, emotional problems or mood changes occur, a doctor should be consulted. In the event of shame, outbursts of anger or severe despair, the child needs help and support. If the skin changes in adults also appear on the genitals, a doctor’s visit is also necessary.
Treatment & Therapy
The appearance of Mollusca contagiosum does not always require special treatment. In most cases, mollusc warts will go away on their own after a while. However, if this does not happen, therapy must take place.
One treatment option is to squeeze out the mollusks. For this purpose, the doctor uses curved tweezers. Scraping with a sharp spoon is also an option. However, these methods are relatively painless. In the case of larger accumulations of molluscs, the patient is given a local anesthetic beforehand. Special creams are used to eliminate them.
Cryotherapy (icing) or ablation with a carbon dioxide laser can also be used. The use of certain medications is also considered helpful. These include cantharidin, imiquimod, and cimetidine. A tried and tested form of treatment is the use of a five percent potassium hydroxide solution. Surgical measures should always be used cautiously in the case of molluscum contagiosum because there is a risk of scarring.
The patient can also become active themselves if mollusk warts appear and wash their hands after touching the mollusks. He should always use his own towel to dry himself off. It is not recommended to scratch the warts, otherwise they could become infected. Likewise, the shaving of the affected areas must be avoided.
Outlook & Forecast
In the context of a prognosis, the prospects of recovery and the transferability must be distinguished. Because usually the mollusk warts recede on their own. In principle, they do not pose a threat to their own lives. This results in a positive prognosis.
However, there is a high risk of infection. Molluscum contagiosum disease is transmitted through direct skin contact. In order to avoid epidemic-like excesses, those affected should keep their distance from healthy people. Towels and cosmetics must also never be used together with non-infected people. The risk of transmission is therefore very high.
In practice, it seems problematic that the period until complete healing is three to twelve months. Children in particular find it difficult to leave the molluscs untouched. Adults sometimes cannot maintain sexual abstinence for that long. As a result, the skin manifestations are scratched open and the virus can spread. In addition, bacterial infection occurs as a complication. Incidentally, molluscum contagiosum takes a long time to develop in immunocompromised people. Medical treatment is usually unavoidable for them.
Overall, the molluscum contagiosum leads to longer-term disadvantages in terms of quality of life. Restrictions have to be accepted in everyday life. However, a shortening of the lifespan is not to be expected.
Preventing an infection with the molluscum contagiosum virus is not easy because it is considered to be highly contagious. Useful preventive measures include washing your hands regularly and avoiding close skin contact with infected people.
In most cases, those affected with molluscum contagiosum have only a few and usually only very limited direct follow-up measures available. The sooner a doctor is consulted, the better the further course of the disease. In the case of molluscum contagiosum, most of those affected are dependent on taking various medications that can alleviate and limit the symptoms.
It is important to ensure that it is taken regularly and that the dosage is correct. In the event of side effects or if anything is unclear, a doctor should always be consulted first. The help and support of one’s own family is also important in everyday life. It can also help alleviate depression and other mental health problems.
Regular check-ups and examinations by a doctor are often very important during treatment. In some cases, life expectancy is limited by molluscum contagiosum, with the further course depending very much on the severity and the exact type of disease.
You can do that yourself
Molluscum contagiosum is a benign skin disease that usually heals on its own after a few months without treatment. However, it is a highly contagious viral infection, so in the event of illness, a number of things must be observed to prevent it from spreading further.
In the case of an existing infection, direct skin contact should be avoided. Sharing towels, creams or clothing should also be avoided. The same goes for shared bathrooms. After the bath, the water may no longer be used by the next person. Adults with molluscum contagiosum should refrain from sexual contact during the infection.
Urgent treatment of molluscs is necessary to reduce the spread of infection. In addition to laser and cold treatment as well as scraping with a curette by the doctor, there is also a treatment method that can be carried out by the patient or the parents of sick children themselves. The application of a 5% potassium hydroxide solution to the molluscs has proven effective. This treatment can be done at home. It is recommended to apply the lye to the affected areas twice a day. This causes inflammatory reactions that eventually lead to the molluscs healing. To prevent possible complications from an additional bacterial infection, parents of affected children should take great care not to scratch or pry open the mollusks.