Molluscum contagiosum in gay and bisexual men
What are Molluscum contagiosum?
- They are harmless small papules or bumps on the skin caused by a viral infection (a pox virus).
- The infection is passed on by direct skin-to-skin contact and may affect any part of the body.
- Sexual contact may lead to papules in the genital area.
- They may appear on the face of people infected with HIV.
- In most people they will usually go away by themselves after several months.
- They may be treated with cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen spray).
- If you have Molluscum contagiosum we recommend an STI screen and HIV test.
How common are Molluscum contagiosum?
- In adults infection in the genital area is common.
- Infection is more common in people who are immunosuppressed e.g. HIV, organ transplant, on chemotherapy.
How do you catch Molluscum contagiosum?
- Through skin-to-skin contact with a person that is infected.
- In adults this normally means intimate or sexual contact and leads to infection in the genital area.
What would I notice if I had Molluscum contagiosum?
- Small, smooth, pearly bumps or papules usually 2-4mm in diameter, with a dimple in the middle.
How do I get tested for Molluscum contagiosum?
- An experienced clinician can confirm the diagnosis on visual examination.
How are Molluscum contagiosum treated?
- Although in non – immunosuppressed people the papules will eventually clear spontaneously, most people prefer to have treatment to clear them up more quickly.
- Treatment with cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen) is provided in the clinic.
- Most people will only need one or two treatments.
- Sometimes a cream treatment is recommended.
What about my partner?
- Your partner should be checked for molluscum too.
What problems can untreated Molluscum contagiosum lead to?
- Sometimes scratching may lead to a secondary bacterial infection of the skin – it looks red and may feel sore, and you may need treatment with antibiotics.
Will Molluscum contagiosum come back again after treatment?
- Not normally unless the papules were only partially treated or you have been re-infected.