Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the skin or occasionally of the mucous membranes This condition is also known as water warts.s. It is caused by a DNA poxvirus called the molluscum contagiosum virus. Mollucum contagiosum virus is the largest virus affecting the human beings. This is a cytoplasmic virus which gets implanted on the skin by contact with other infected individuals.
The disease is common in children, though less commonly, it may also occur in adults. The incubation period is 2-8 weeks.
It manifests in the form of asymptomatic, pearly white or pink, smooth-surfaced 2-10 mm size papules which may be present on any part of the body in diffusely scattered clusters.
The larger lesions tend to become umbilicated in the centre.
As the old lesions heal spontaneously in 1-2 weeks, the new lesions can continue to appear by auto-inoculation. Most often, there are only a few lesions.
Widely disseminated lesions may occur in atopic patients or those with suppressed cell mediated immunity. When present in the genital area, molluscum contagiosum may be transmitted through sexual contact.
The diagnosis can be made by expressing the contents of a lesion, making a smear on a glass slide and staining with Gram or Geimsa stains to demonstrate the molluscum body.
These are best treated by cauterization with phenol or trichloroacetic acid in the same manner as for warts. Within a week’s time, the lesions turn into crusts and fall off without leaving any scars. The patient should, however, be examined again within a fortnight to look for the lesions which may have been left behind or which may develop afresh during this period.
If necessary, the same treatment should be repeated. Several lesions may disappear even without any treatment. Oral griseofulvin has been found helpful even in molluscum contagiosum.
Cryosurgery and laser can also be tried.