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What is Molluscum Contagiousum (MC)?

MC is an infection caused by a poxvirus. It is usually a common, harmless, mild viral infection described by growths that appear on the body often on the face, trunk and limbs. It mainly affects children ages 1 to 10, and adolescents, but it can also infect adults. In healthy people it usually resolves on its own within 6 -12 months without scarring but can sometimes take longer.

People at increased risk are:

  • those with a weakened immune system such as patients with HIV/AIDS
  • those with atopic dermatitis are at risk due to breaks in the skin
  • those who live in warm, humid climates under crowded conditions

What does it look like?

MC are small, firm, smooth, raised, white, pink or flesh-colored bumps with a dimple in the center.  They range in size from about the size of a pinhead up to the size of a pencil eraser. They look like a pimple or multiple pimples with a pearly appearance. They can become itchy, sore, red and swollen. Scratching spreads the virus and could result in a secondary bacterial infection.

Dr. Michael Sotiriou will make the diagnosis based on your symptoms and visual inspection of your skin.

How do you get MC?

The virus lives on the top layer of skin. It can be spread by direct person to person contact or through contaminated animals or inanimate objects such as toys, towels and clothing. An infected individual can spread MC to other parts of the body by scratching the lesions and touching other parts of the body. In adults, they can be spread by sexual contact.

What are the treatment options?

Most people seek treatment for social and cosmetic reasons. Treatment is designed to speed healing and prevent spreading. No single treatment has been shown to be most effective in the treatment of MC.

Treatment options include physical removal by freezing with liquid nitrogen, cutting or scraping the lesion and laser therapy. Dr. Sotiriou and his caring team can help you choose the best treatment for your condition.

Topical treatments include an in office treatment with Cantharidin, which is an extract purified from a blister beetle. This treatment is ideal for treating children as it does not cause pain during application. Additional treatments include: over the counter Podophyllotoxin 0.5% cream, 10% benzoyl peroxide cream, iodine plus tea tree oil, and salicylic acid. Prescription imiquimod is reserved for adults with sexually-related molluscum. Recovery doesn’t prevent future infections.

Contact Dr. Michael Sotiriou at Salt Lake Dermatology & Aesthetics in Salt Lake City Utah to receive the correct diagnosis and explore your options.

At a Glance

Dr. Michael Sotiriou

  • Board-certified, Residency-Trained Medical and Cosmetic Dermatologist
  • Sub-Specialty Board Certification in Mohs Micrographic Dermatologic Surgery from the American Board of Dermatology
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology
  • Learn more

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