How to Recognize Molluscum Contagious: 11 Steps

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How to Recognize Molluscum Contagious: 11 Steps
How to Recognize Molluscum Contagious: 11 Steps

Molluscum contagiosum is a very common skin infection. It is caused by a virus and leaves papules circular, firm, painless and the size of a school eraser. The disease is contagious and can spread to other parts of the skin if the infected person scratches the raised lesions. It usually affects children who have a weaker immune system, but adults can also catch it, including as a sexually transmitted disease (STD) if it occurs in the genitals. It is normal for molluscum contagiosum to disappear on its own, but it is important to know the most frequent symptoms in order to take the correct treatment and not confuse it with other more serious diseases.


Part 1 of 3: Identifying the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum

Recognize Molluscum (Molluscum Contagiosum) Step 1

Step 1. Know what the risk groups are

Molluscum contagiosum is such a common infection that you may have met someone who has had it. It not only affects children, but most cases occur in children aged one to ten who have a delicate immune system due to malnutrition or another illness. The risk is also higher for chemotherapy patients, the elderly and the seropositives.

  • Those who have atopic dermatitis are more susceptible to acquiring molluscum contagiosum.
  • The practice of contact sports is another risk factor.
  • Generally speaking, molluscum contagiosum is more present in hot, humid climates and in very crowded environments.
Recognize Molluscum (Molluscum Contagiosum) Step 2

Step 2. Observe the appearance of the marbles

The most characteristic lesions are small, rounded and protruding. Most of the time, 10 to 20 small balls form on the skin. The amount can go beyond 100 for people with AIDS. The most common colors are white and pink.

  • The nodules are between 2 and 5 mm in diameter, which is about the size of the tip of a crayon or school eraser. They can get bigger when they occur in the genitalia.
  • The balls do not occur in just one place on the body and the most common is on the face, neck, armpits, arms and hands. They only do not affect the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Symptoms manifest about seven weeks after infection.
  • Pink spots sometimes look like a wart, blister, or skin polyp.
Recognize Molluscum (Molluscum Contagiosum) Step 3

Step 3. See if the nodules are turning red and inflamed

It usually doesn't make you want to scratch, unless you're running your hand over it. When you scratch or rub the balls, they turn red and inflamed and cause itching, which increases the chances that the disease will spread to other parts of the body and make the condition worse.

  • Lesions come out easily when you run your hand or bump into them, something that doesn't happen with pimples, warts and other skin papules.
  • If the marbles turn red and inflamed even though you don't touch them, it's a sign that the immune system is resisting and trying to get rid of the disease.
  • Under these circumstances, they look like a normal pimple, an ingrown hair or even a blister of chicken pox.
  • Do not confuse inflamed lesions with an infection and do not take an antibiotic.
Recognize Molluscum (Molluscum Contagiosum) Step 4

Step 4. Check for any holes

The symptoms of molluscum contagiosum differ from other skin diseases and infections in that they present a depression in the middle of the papule, which is called an umbilication. This central umbilication has a thick, white secretion with a pearly appearance. You can squeeze the liquid out, but it's not a good idea because it makes the infection easier to spread.

  • The umbilication makes the balls look like a blackhead, pimple, or pustule.
  • The shiny secretion that stays inside the nodule has millions of viruses mixed with the oils of the skin and, in some cases, with the pus, which are the dead white blood cells.

Part 2 of 3: Preventing Contagious Molluscum

Recognize Molluscum (Molluscum Contagiosum) Step 5

Step 1. Take care of your hygiene

A great way to prevent the spread of various types of diseases, including molluscum contagiosum, is to keep your personal hygiene up to date. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially when you greet or touch someone who has lumps on their skin. Hand hygiene also eliminates viruses (and other germs) that may have come into contact with you when handling objects, toys, clothes or towels.

  • After showering, dry yourself gently. Pass the towel gently and do not rub it, as the infection increases when the balls come out.
  • In addition to washing your hands, put a stop to the habit of putting your finger in your mouth or rubbing your eyes.
  • Alcohol gel also eliminates contagious molluscum and is a good alternative to soap and water.
  • The disease can be transmitted through bath sponge, towels, pumice and scissors. Do not share these items with anyone.
Recognize Molluscum (Molluscum Contagiosum) Step 6

Step 2. Avoid sex

This viral disease is also transmitted through sex because pellets form on or around the sexual organs (the upper thigh and lower abdomen are very common points). The use of condoms is not enough to prevent contagion because molluscum contagiosum spreads through skin contact rather than body fluids.

  • The best thing you can do is take a break from sex and wait for it to get better if you or your partner has the disease.
  • Oral sex is also prohibited for those who have balls near their mouth or face.
  • It is normal for people to confuse molluscum contagiosum with herpes, but it does not cause irritation.
Recognize Molluscum (Molluscum Contagiosum) Step 7

Step 3. Don't scratch the lesions

As difficult as it is, avoid the temptation to rub, scratch or even touch the balls. The simple act of moving or scratching them makes the virus spread to other areas of the body and increases the probability of transmitting the disease to another people.

  • Take even more care with your eyes so as not to cause an infection (conjunctivitis).
  • Moving around the affected parts can injure or remove the nodules, which causes the virus to spread. Therefore, do not put your hand on your face, armpits or legs if you notice symptoms in these parts.
Recognize Molluscum (Molluscum Contagiosum) Step 8

Step 4. Cover the wounds

Have you already caught the disease? Don't let it spread to other places on your body: cover the affected areas with a thin cloth or a light bandage. This makes it easier to prevent yourself or others from touching these areas.

  • Always keep these covered areas clean and dry.
  • Wear waterproof bandages and change them regularly (daily if they come into contact with water).
  • It's much better to wear loose-fitting cotton clothes than thick wool or synthetic fibers that don't let your skin breathe.

Part 3 of 3: Treating molluscum contagiosum

Recognize Molluscum (Molluscum Contagiosum) Step 9

Step 1. Wait and watch

Molluscum contagiosum is a self-limiting disease and usually disappears after a while in healthy individuals, and medical treatment is not necessary. It usually takes between six and 12 months for the infection to subside.

  • In people who have low immunity, it can take up to five years for all the pellets to go away.
  • Some doctors recommend treatment when there is damage to the sexual apparatus.
Recognize Molluscum (Molluscum Contagiosum) Step 10

Step 2. Eliminate the nodules

In some cases, doctors suggest surgical removal of the lesions because they are contagious and cause discomfort in patients. This situation is more common when the disease manifests itself near the penis, vulva and anus. Ask a doctor if removal is an appropriate procedure for you.

  • The removal can be done through cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen), curettage (scraping) and laser.
  • These techniques are often painful and require local anesthesia. The occurrence of scars is not so rare.
  • Generally, general practitioners refer patients to the dermatologist.
Recognize Molluscum (Molluscum Contagiosum) Step 11

Step 3. Pass the meds

Sometimes some creams or ointments are prescribed to apply directly to the pellets, because they improve symptoms and speed healing. The most common are made from retinoic acid, adapalene, tazarotene or imiquimod. These medications cannot be used by pregnant women because they pose risks to the baby.

  • Salicylic acid and potassium hydroxide solutions are also used and help to remove blistering lesions.
  • Podophyllotoxin creams are good for home use and do not require a prescription. A scientific study compared the results of the control group, who were given only a placebo, to those of a group of patients who applied the cream at a concentration of 0.5% twice a day and three days a week. The treatment lasted a month. In the end, 92% of the individuals in the podophyllotoxin group were cured. Apply a good amount of medicine to the affected areas.


  • Do not use the towel, clothing or personal items of someone who has or may have the molluscum contagious.
  • If the disease manifests itself in the eyelids, do not scratch your eyes to avoid getting conjunctivitis.
  • Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a poxvirus.
  • Do not use the sports equipment and accessories (cleats and gloves, for example) of a person suspected of having the disease.
  • Have you had a skin rash (rash, blisters, and papules) for several days and it isn't going away by itself? Make an appointment with a dermatologist.
  • Molluscum contagiosum does not work like herpes, which remains dormant in the body for a long time and can reappear.

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