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Molluscum contagiosum

What is it?

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral disease that causes skin lesions often confused with warts. The disease transmission occurs by direct contact with infected persons. Primarily affects children, because their immunity is not yet fully developed.

The disease can also reach adults, especially those with immune deficiency, such as HIV patients or those who suffered transplant. In adults, the lesions tend to affect mainly areas of thin skin and can be transmitted by sexual contact.

Characteristics and symptoms

Lesions of molluscum contagiosum are small, elevated, hemispherical, with translucent aspect and presenting central umbilication. They may appear isolated (more common) or grouped. Lesion size can vary from pinhead to about 5mm in diameter.

molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum affects mainly the trunk and the root of the limbs. In some children the disease spreads rapidly and may form hundreds of lesions, which are usually asymptomatic but, sometimes, there may be discreet pruritus (itching).


Treatment consists of destruction of the lesions, which can be done by electrocoagulation, cryotherapy, curettage, chemical cauterization or manual expression. When curetted or removed by manual expression, it eliminates a whitish material.

Treatment should be started when the first lesions appear, preventing the spreading that occurs in some cases, when hospitalization may be necessary to perform the treatment under anesthesia, due to the discomfort caused by the removal methods.

Related articles

- Viral warts
- Syringoma

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