Molluscum Contagiosum is caused by a poxvirus (molluscum contagiosum virus). It is a benign (NOT cancerous) skin disease characterized by growths that may appear anywhere on the body, including the genital area. It typically appear as small, raised, and usually white, pink, or flesh-colored with a dimple or pit in the center. They often have a pearly appearance.
The size ranges from that of a pinhead to as large as a pencil eraser (2 to 5 millimeters in diameter). They may become itchy, sore, red, and/or swollen, and usually disappear on their own over time (6-12 months) without treatment.
This spreads from direct person-to-person physical contact and through contaminated objects like clothing and towels, bathing sponges, gym & pool equipment. Someone with molluscum can spread it to other parts of their body by touching or scratching a lesion and then touching their body somewhere else. This is called autoinoculation.
Shaving, waxing and electrolysis can also spread it to other parts of the body and can spread from one person to another by sexual contact. Many, but not all, cases of molluscum in adults are caused by sexual contact.
Molluscum contagiosum is NOT like herpes viruses. It does NOT remain dormant (“sleeping”) in your body for long periods and then reappear. If you get new molluscum contagiosum lesions after you are cured, it means you have come in contact with an infected person or object again.
Treatment for molluscum is usually recommended if lesions are in the genital area (on or near the penis, vulva, vagina, or anus). You should NEVER try to remove molluscum on your own. Picking, scratching or scraping the areas can cause scarring and bacterial skin infections.
Cryotherapy (freezing the lesion with liquid nitrogen and chemical/acid therapy offer rapid improvement and are offered at UHS. Sometimes more than one treatment is needed. Scarring is a possibility after these treatments.
Podofilox solution (0.5%) (CONDYLOX) and imiquimod (ALDARA – off label) are available as prescriptions and can be used at home under the supervision of a medical professional.
In an emergency go to Mount Nittany Medical Center or call 911 for an ambulance.
Test Results and Advice Nurse
Send secure message to advice nurse via the UHS website or call 814- 865-4UHS (4847), press 3.
Appointments can be made online via the UHS website, by phone 814- 865-4UHS (4847), or in person. If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call or go online to cancel. Otherwise, you will be charged for the visit.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis, or treatment by a healthcare professional. 09/2022