incidence: common

cause: virus (Molluscum contagiosum)

symptoms: painless, dimpled bumps

treatment: topical treatments, but will resolve without treatment


Molluscum contagiosum (molluscum for short) is a skin infection caused by the virus Molluscum contagiosum, which is a member of the poxvirus family. It is usually a relatively benign infection that causes harmless skin lesions and does not become chronic. Molluscum is very common among children, who often have lesions on the face, trunk or extremities and who usually acquire the infection through nonsexual contact. Adults usually acquire the infection in the genital area through sexual contact.

Since most people do not seek treatment for molluscum and the infection is not reportable to health departments in the United States, it is difficult to estimate how common it is. It is a commonly seen skin problem in pediatric clinics and sexually transmitted disease clinics. It occurs throughout the United States and the world, but it is probably more common in warmer areas.

People who have compromised immune systems, such as those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), often have extensive lesions on the face and other areas of the body. It is not clear whether the virus is latent on the skin and becomes active when the immune system weakens or whether persons with AIDS are more vulnerable to new infection.


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