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Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum in heterosexual 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.

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