What is it?
Molluscum Contagiosum is a common skin growth caused by a viral infection in the top layers of the skin. It looks like a small pearly lump. It is quite common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
How do you get it?
Molluscum Contagiosum is passed on by direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the infection. It can be transmitted through both sexual and non-sexual contact with infected areas.
What are the symptoms or signs?
The lesions (sores) look like waxy pimples that have a dimple in the middle. Lesions (sores) can appear in the genital area as well as other parts of the body and can be itchy. Scratching can spread the virus. Sexually transmitted lesions are usually found on the lower abdomen, pubic area and thighs. They usually show up between two and 12 weeks after exposure.
Diagnosis is made by observation by a doctor or nurse. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between Molluscum Contagiosum and warts. In this case the doctor can send a sample for testing.
Can it be treated?
The lesions usually disappear by themselves after some time. A doctor can either
- freeze the lesions (which destroys them) to reduce the risk of them spreading; or
- extract the core of the lump which contains the virus with a fine needle.
How can it be prevented?
Only the area covered by a condom, glove or dam is protected from the virus. Avoid close physical contact until the lesions have disappeared.
Molluscum Contagiosum & HIV
If you are HIV-positive you may be more susceptible to acquiring Molluscum Contagiosum, which is more persistent in people with a weakened immune system.