Molluscum contagiosum is an infection caused by a poxvirus (molluscum contagiosum virus). The result of the infection is usually a benign, mild skin disease characterized by lesions (growths) that may appear anywhere on the body. Within 6-12 months, Molluscum contagiosum typically resolves without scarring but may take as long as 4 years.
The lesions, known as Mollusca, are small, raised, and usually white, pink, or flesh-colored with a dimple or pit in the center. They often have a pearly appearance. They’re usually smooth and firm. In most people, the lesions range from about the size of a pinhead to as large as a pencil eraser (2 to 5 millimeters in diameter). They may become itchy, sore, red, and/or swollen.
Mollusca may occur anywhere on the body including the face, neck, arms, legs, abdomen, and genital area, alone or in groups. The lesions are rarely found on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet.
The virus that causes molluscum contagiosum spreads easily through:
- Skin-to-skin contact
- Contact with infected objects, such as towels, kickboards and wrestling mats
- Swimming in pools or hot tubs contaminated with the virus
- Sexual contact with an affected partner
- Scratching or rubbing the bumps, which spreads the virus to nearby skin
Complications: The bumps and the skin around them may become inflamed. This is thought to be an immune system response to the infection. If scratched, these bumps can become infected and heal with scarring. If sores appear on the eyelids, pink eye (conjunctivitis) can develop.