Molluscum contagiosum are tiny pearl like skin lesions caused by infection with a Pox virus. The virus is spread largely by direct skin contact. There is a relatively long period between the infection and the appearance of the lesions, called the incubation period, which can be up to 8 weeks long.
The most important point about Molluscum is that they are totally harmless and self-limiting – that is they go away by themselves after a period of time. Following infection most people develop immunity so the majority of Molluscum are seen in children.
Each lesion usually lasts 6-12 weeks often becoming inflamed and scabbing over before disappearing. New lesions will continue to form until immunity develops and the whole infection can last up to 2 years.
Treatment is only needed if a lesion becomes infected. Then topical (creams or gels) antiseptics or antibiotics can be used. It is best to avoid any treatments aimed at getting rid of the lesions themselves – the treatments are likely to be painful and often result in permanent scarring. When the lesions eventually clear naturally there will generally be no scars. In people with abnormal immune systems the virus can be more aggressive and specialized treatment might be necessary.
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