Once a disease that primarily impacted children, molluscum contagiosum is a skin condition. It is caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) and produces small lesions or bumps on the skin. It is considered part of the pox virus family and is generally benign.
How Molluscum Contagiosum Is Contracted
Catching the virus requires close contact with someone who has it. The primary route of transmission among adults is sexual contact. However, this is not the only way the virus can pass between individuals. Any direct contact with an infected body part can lead to the spread of molluscum contagiosum. Additionally, sharing clothes, towels, and toys can result in transmission of the disease.
Symptoms of Molluscum Contagiosum
The only clear symptom of molluscum contagiosum are the lesions or bumps it produces. These growths range from being roughly the size of the head of a pin to being as large as the eraser end of a pencil. Color can range from the same skin tone as the rest of the body to fully white. Most will have a dimple in the middle of the growth. It is rare for these growths to cause pain, but they do itch and can become red and swollen.
Where Molluscum Contagiosum Appears
The sores from the virus appear in the same area of the body where the infection happened. As such, when it is sexually transmitted, the bumps and lesions tend to appear on the thighs and genital area. However, having sores in these areas does not rule out other paths of transmission. For example, sharing a towel could also result in bumps on the thighs and genitals.
Molluscum Contagiosum Incubation Period
The incubation period of molluscum contagiosum is highly varied. Bumps and lesions can appear within a week of contracting the virus, but for some, it takes six months for there to be any signs. It is common for people with the virus to be unaware that they have it. This is because they may be asymptomatic for a long time and also because the growths are so small and generally unproblematic that the individual may not even notice they are there.
Treating Molluscum Contagiosum
Should you notice any skin irritation, rashes, bumps, or blisters that do not resolve in a few days, you need to see a doctor. In most cases, molluscum contagiosum can be diagnosed through a quick skin examination. In most cases, the virus clears up on its own within one year, but for some, it may last four years or more.
Testing for Molluscum Contagiosum
If you suspect you have contracted molluscum contagiosum and want discreet testing, opt for an at-home STD testing kit immediately.