Molluscum Contagiosum

molluscum TAS

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the skin that usually occurs in children, but can also be seen in sexually active adults. While not a serious virus, the skin lesions can last up to two years. Males are affected more frequently than females. People with HIV infection are at increased risk for severe infection with hundreds of lesions. The disease is spread by skin-to-skin contact or by indirect contact such as through sharing towels.

Physical exam

The skin lesions are small (1/16 inch to 3/16 inch), round, flesh-colored to pearly-pink papules with a small indentation or dot at the top. They are most often located on the face, neck, armpits, hands, and arms, and in the genital area in adults. The lesions are usually scattered but clusters can occur.


  • The lesions will clear over time and prevention is important by avoiding skin-to-skin contact with infected individuals
  • Curettage - most lesions can be shaved off with little discomfort or bleeding
  • Cryotherapy - freezing for 10-15 seconds is effective and causes minimal pain
  • Electrodessication - usually reserved for lesions that don't respond to other treatments
  • Cantharidin (blistering agent)
  • Topical retinoids
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