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What is Molluscum?

What is Molluscum Contagiosum? Fact not Fiction.

Molluscum Contagiosum(Muh lus´ kum + Kon tae-´ jee- O´ sum)  is a human to human viral infection caused by a DNA virus of the Poxveridae family and appears on the skin as a rash almost like poison ivy.  As the name suggest the virus is very contagious.  The virus is not deep and only affects the outer

(epithelial)layer of skin but does not circulate throughout the body in healthy people.  Molluscum will appear as small white, pink, or flesh colored raised nodules or lesions with a central umbilication.  Central umbilication means that the papules or legions of molluscum will have a formation or depression at the apex of a papule, vesicle, or pustule. The nodules will be firm and smooth and can range in size from 1/16 to a ¼ of an inch.  If the molluscum papule is broken open they will also have a characteristic waxy core.  On rare occasions it affects the mucus membranes (moist linings of the orifices and internal parts of the body). It is not found in animals or pets.


The nodules can appear virtually anywhere on the body in groups or simply by themselves.  Molluscum nodules can be itchy, red, swollen and become sore but in most cases it is painless.

Molluscum is most common among children or in sexually active young adults.  There are four strains of virus (MCV-1, 2, 3 and 4). MCV-1 is most common for children and MCV-2 is more common for adult infections.

It can be transmitted sexually so sometimes molluscum is described as an STD(sexually transmitted disease).

For people with a healthy immune system molluscum will usually disappear in 6-12 months and normally will not leave scars.  In some cases though, it has remained for up to 4 years.  If the person has immune suppressed condition they should seek medical help.  The incubation period for molluscum is generally between 2 and 8 weeks, but can take up to 6 months.