Molluscum Contagiosum (MC)

Molluscum contagiosum is a common skin infection caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV). It’s transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, both sexual and non-sexual.

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MC lesions on penis

Molluscum Contagiosum (Penis)

MC lesions on vulva

Typical MC lesions closeup: smooth and rounded

Transmission

  • Skin contact, both sexual and non-sexual (for example, hugging)
  • Transfer from one part of the body to another, by scratching

Signs and Symptoms

Two to six months after infection a rash of small and round bumps appear, usually grouped around the same area. There may be many bumps, or just two or three and often appear around the genitals for adults. The bumps look like waxy pimples and have a dimple in the middle, where cheesy (infectious) material can be expressed from. There is generally no itching or pain and no other symptoms.

Treatment

Molluscum contagiosum usually disappears on its own, but it can take up to two years to develop immunity, so symptoms may come and go until immunity is developed. Treatment can shorten the length of infection, which lessens the risk of passing it on to others. The common treatment of molluscum is to freeze the lesion (cryotherapy) similar to the treatment of warts or to de-roof the lesion and squeeze out the pus.

Prevention

Avoid skin contact with visible lesions. A condom or dam will only provide protection to the areas of skin that it covers.