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What are the Different Molluscum Contagiosum Symptoms?

By Nat Robinson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Molluscum contagiosum is a type of viral skin infection. The infection is somewhat common in children. It may also be seen in adults, however, adults with the infection concentrated in the genital area may have a sexually transmitted disease. Some people who get molluscum contagiosum have diseases known to weaken the immune system, such as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In general, the most common of molluscum contagiosum symptoms is papules shaped like a pearl on the skin.

The molluscum contagiosum infection is contagious. Traces of the viral infection can linger on objects like clothing, toys, faucets, towels and doorknobs. A person may also get the illness from touching a papule on someone with the infection. In adults, sexual contact with a person with the infection can cause it to spread. It should also be known that scratching the irritated skin can cause the papules to spread to other areas on the skin.

Typically, the appearance of lesions or papules on the skin is one of the most easily seen molluscum contagiosum symptoms. The papules are usually flesh colored and look similar to a pearl. They are generally small in size, with the average one being a couple of millimeters wide. In most cases, the spots are painless. Additionally, some itching can usually be expected.

Like many kinds of skin irritations, molluscum contagiosum symptoms can include redness or inflammation. Although in most cases, redness or swelling in affected areas is generally induced by excessively scratching the skin. Most papules will have a small dot at the head. The location of the irritations can vary. Many outbreaks occur on the hands, neck, face, arms, abdomen and inner thighs.

As molluscum contagiosum is an infection, a fever may be a symptom as well. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and weakness. A doctor may diagnose this condition by scraping a section of skin to examine it under a microscope. Accurately identifying molluscum contagiosum is important, as the papules may be similar to those of another type of health condition. For example, some sexually transmitted diseases may have similar looking irritations.

Typically, molluscum contagiosum symptoms will resolve after a while. The papules may take up to a year to fully dissolve. Some individuals may have particularly bothersome papules frozen off, lasered away or scraped off. These particular treatment methods may cause scarring and be painful to endure. If exposed to an environment where molluscum contagiosum is active, washing hands frequently and thoroughly may keep the infection from rapidly spreading.

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Discussion Comments
By anon985674 — On Jan 18, 2015

@mcvdad- I have been battling this with my daughter who is now 6 for over a year. We have tried tea tree oil but didn't seem to work. You mentioned that you noticed a combination of things work best. Any specific regimen you would suggest?

By mcvdad — On Mar 01, 2014

Molluscum is not known to cause nausea. It is a skin virus and does not reside in the blood. There are various research papers available. Iodine is one potential cure, apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil are others and recently pure coconut oil proved successful in a clinical trial. Five members of my family (adults, children and a baby) have gone through molluscum contagiosum and we found that a combination of things works best.

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