What is Molluscum contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin disease caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV). MCV usually causes one or more small lesions/bumps. Molluscum contagiosum may be sexually transmitted by skin-to-skin contact and/or contact with lesions. It can also be transmitted non-sexually–from objects like towels and clothing that come in contact with the lesions.
If you have MCV, it is possible for you to transmit the virus from one part of your body to another by touching or scratching a lesion and then touching another part of the body.
What are the symptoms?
Lesions or bumps are usually present on the thighs, buttocks, groin and lower abdomen of adults, and may occasionally appear on the external genital and anal region. Children who are infected typically develop lesions on the face, trunk, legs, and arms.
The lesions can be flesh colored, gray-white, yellow or pink. They can cause itching or tenderness in the area, but in most cases, the lesions cause few problems. Remember that only a healthcare provider or clinic can diagnose you.
Can molluscum be treated?
Most symptoms will go away on their own, but generally, lesions or bumps are removed to reduce the risk of transmitting it to other people. Lesions can be removed surgically and/or treated with a chemical to remove them.
How can I reduce my risk?
Because transmission through sexual contact is the most common form of transmission for adults, preventing skin-to-skin contact with an infected partner will be most effective in preventing MCV. Latex condoms or other moisture barriers for vaginal, oral, and anal sex may help to prevent such contact, but condoms don’t protect from contact with other areas such as the scrotum or anal area.
If you do get molluscum contagiosum, avoid touching the lesion and then touching another part of the body without washing your hands to prevent the chance of autoinoculation.
Read more about preventing molluscum and other STIs.