Molluscum contagiosum is a virus that, as the name suggests, is contagious. The appearance of bumps that are often flesh colored or pink, dome shaped, and have a dimple in the center are the only symptom of infection. It can take several weeks for a person to begin showing the symptoms from the time they encounter the virus.
Molluscum virus is a part of the Pox family, but unlike Chicken pox, it is often painless. There may still be itching however; if one scratches or picks at the bumps, this causes the bumps to spread to other areas of the body. This virus is most commonly found in young children, for whom it may be hard to resist picking at the lesions. Aside from being easily spread around one’s own body, it can also be spread via direct or indirect contact from person to person. Children are so commonly infected due to their constant skin to skin contact. Because molluscum also spreads indirectly, even an infected child’s clothing or toys could spread the virus. Molluscum is also spread amongst athletes due to shared mats, equipment, and swimming pools.
There is no vaccination for the molluscum virus, and treatment can vary widely from person to person. In many cases, the bumps resolve on their own without treatment, but this can take 12-18 months to obtain completely clear skin. People with compromised immune systems may not be able to fight off the virus without treatment. Until all lesions are gone, the infected person is still contagious. Even with treatment, complete resolution can still take weeks to months to achieve. Therefore, our providers at Derick Dermatology recommend those infected by the virus come in for an appointment in our Arlington Heights, Barrington, Crystal Lake, or Elgin offices. By observing a patient’s case, the dermatologist can decide if a treatment such as cryosurgery (freezing the lesion with liquid nitrogen), prick removal, or topical medication is the patient’s best option. The virus can more easily spread in dry, irritated skin so it’s important to keep your skin moisturized. No matter what the case, it is always a good idea to have these lesions examined by a professional in order to stop the virus spreading, and to obtain treatment if deemed necessary.