Who gets molluscum contagiosum?
Molluscum is most common in children 2-5 but can occur in older children or teens as well. It is caused by a pox virus that causes crops of flesh colored bumps with a small indentation in the center to grow on your skin. It is very common and you should not feel stigmatized if you or your child has it. In fact it is estimated that 1 in 6 people will have this by the age of 15 with estimated visits to the doctor per year of 280,000! No child should be made to stay home from daycare or school because of molluscum. Yes it is contagious but so are colds and warts. The lesions are spread by skin to skin contact and possibly through water. Having clothes or band aids cover the molluscum lesions you can reduce how much it spreads to other children. It can also be further spread on your own skin by scratching and picking. Children with eczema are much more likely to contract molluscum. Often times control of the eczema is an important part of the treatment for Molluscum or else it can last for years. The molluscum lesions are not itchy buy younger children will often pick and scratch them. Adults can also get molluscum in their genital, groin or buttocks from sexual contact.
How Long can it last?
Once you come in contact with it, it may take 14 days to six months until symptoms appear. The lesions are small (.5 to 1 mm) and they have a small divot or depression in the center. Lesions tend to come and go in crops but this varies widely from person to person. While the average time a person has it is about 10 months it can last 2-4 years in some. The lesions can also get inflamed or even infected. In many people when the body starts to gain an immunity and kill the molluscum off, they get inflamed and painful due to the body attacking it. It is difficult to tell what is causing the inflammation and inflamed molluscum are often treated with antibiotics with no improvement because they were never infected in the first place only inflamed.
Molluscum do not scar unless they become badly infected. A red mark can often be seen after the molluscum lesion has resolved but it will disappear over the next few months. Lesions tend to get smaller and less frequent towards the end of the outbreak. Once the molluscum outbreak is over it does not come back in patients with a normal immune system. In can resurface in adulthood if one has never had it before or you can lose your immunity to it. In adulthood it is spread by sexual contact. In adulthood the lesions favor the areas that have the most friction durring sex so you can get it in places that condoms don’t cover.