Molluscum contagiosum

The commonest skin infection due to a pox virus is molluscum contagiosum, a skin infection seen particularly in children. Despite its name it is not very contagious, but can occur in families.

In adults florid molluscum contagiosum may be an indication of underlying immunodeficiency, as in AIDS patients.

Clinical features

The white, umbilicated papules of molluscum contagiosum are characteristic. Large solitary lesions may cause confusion as can secondarily infected, excoriated lesions. These lesions often itch, particularly in patients with atopy. Resolving lesions may be surrounded by a small patch of eczema.


Diagnosis is usually based on clinical appearances or microscopy of the contents of papules. Sometimes there is confusion with viral warts.


Most treatments result in discomfort and may not be tolerated by young children. An antibiotic-hydrocortisone ointment can be used for excoriated lesions. Treatment with liquid

Steroids may cause disseminated infection in immunodeficient patients

Molluscum contagiosum

Disseminated Warts

nitrogen is probably the simplest treatment. Other methods include superficial curettage and carefully rotating a sharpened orange stick moistened with phenol in the centre of each lesion.

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