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Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum Contagiosum is a pox-like virus infection that affects children and adults. Skin bumps, usually painless, appear. Although the disease may resolve without treatment, secondary infections may occur when the patient touches or scratches the lesions. The disease spreads when an infected individual touches or makes contact with another person. He or she may pass the disease through contaminated towels or clothes. This disease can affect adults as a sexually transmitted disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this viral disease may affect up to eight percent of the population each year. A board-certified dermatologist such as Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta diagnoses and treats viral skin diseases.

The viral papules are usually flesh-toned or darker than normal skin tone. Bumps typically present as round, raised lesions that are two to five millimeters in diameter. Lesions are typically indented in the center. Scratching may irritate bumps and cause them to appear inflamed, swell, or bleed. Although pain is rare, children may experience discomfort. Children are most prone to the development of bumps on hands, face, neck or under the arms. Adults most commonly develop the lesions on buttocks, underarms, abdomen, thighs, and genitals as a sexually-transmitted disease (STD).

Incubation and Recovery Periods

The disease develops over an incubation period of two to six weeks from exposure. Very young children and patients with decreased immune function may develop symptoms faster than others. Once present, the bumps may remain on the skin for approximately eight weeks. The virus may spread and cause new lesions to form as older ones heal, extending the time the patient must deal with the symptoms. The Mayo Clinic reports that most patients are free of lesions in six months to four years. The average recovery period is approximately two years.

Some individuals recover more quickly. Others require topical medications to completely heal. Secondary infections may present a serious health threat to some patients with Molluscum Contagiosum. Dr. Kathleen J. Smith evaluates, diagnoses, and provides specific treatment options depending upon the severity of the patient’s symptoms.

Evaluation and Diagnosis

According to Harvard University, most dermatologists diagnose the condition based on appearance and location on the body. Alternatively, Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta may take a skin scraping for microscopic evaluation or perform a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis of the disease. The viral particle is visible only under an electron microscope.


Treatment is often necessary to prevent the disease from spreading to others. Bumps may be excised by laser, curettage, or cryotherapy. Topical creams, including hydrocortisone medicines, can help to reduce itching or manage the development of secondary dermatitis from infection. Some topical medicines help to dissolve the bumps over time. Other topical lotions or astringents may cause irritation to occur in order to help the skin slough off cells affected by the virus. Patients with eczema or those with lowered immune function may need special care.

Adults with sexually-transmitted lesions may also benefit from prescription medicines. Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta prescribes anti-viral medications for the skin to support the body’s ability to heal.


Adults must take special care to prevent spreading this very contagious disease from one part of the body to another or to other individuals. Simple, frequent handwashing or covering bumps with bandages can help patients to prevent the spread of the disease to family, friends, and coworkers. It’s important to avoid touching, shaving, rubbing, or scratching the affected areas until the skin is clear. Special care must be taken to avoid sharing clothes, linens, grooming items, or towels to avoid spreading the infection. The patient should avoid having sexual intercourse until he or she is treated and free of the disease. Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta will advise the patient about when it’s okay to resume sexual activity.

Medical researchers report that Molluscum Contagiosum may have the ability to spread from an affected person to another in a swimming pool. Although the disease may spread through shared linens, equipment, or contact that occurs in the pool or shower, it’s important for affected persons to take special precautions in public pools. It’s important to ask Dr. Kathleen J. Smith about this and all other questions and concerns relating to the disease.


Viral diseases of this skin require accurate diagnosis and treatment by a board-certified dermatologist. Recovery from some skin diseases can take months to years. Gratefully, patients in North Decatur, GA, Druid Hills, GA, Gresham Park, GA, Tucker, GA, and throughout the greater Atlanta metropolitan area can call a triple-board certified dermatologist such as Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta today at 678-904-4932.

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