Of all the skin conditions that pass through The Dermatology Clinic, few are as unsightly as molluscum contagiosum. Caused by a human poxvirus, the infection is characterized by wart-like growths (lesions) that suddenly sprout on the body. Fortunately, its awful appearance is often the worst thing about this benign skin disease. With that said, the condition is quite common and easy to catch. Here’s what you need to know to avoid it.
Teach Your Children Well
Although adults can catch the viral infection, the vast majority of cases a dermatologist will see involve kids. The reason? Like most viral infections, kids are more susceptible to molluscum because they’re in more situations where they might catch something spread through person-to-person contact. Playing contact sports, sharing personal items, and swimming in public pools (the virus can spread through water) are the most common ways of encountering molluscum. As such, children with the virus should not engage in any of those activities until the lesions (growths) are gone. In some instances, it may be possible to adequately cover lesions to stop transmission.
The simplest way to avoid the virus, for both adults and kids, is to pay close attention to personal hygiene. Because the virus lives on the top layer of the skin (epidermis), it can be spread simply by touching or scratching a lesion, then touching another part of your body, or another person. (This is typically how molluscum is spread to the face and neck.) As such, it is important to wash your hands frequently to prevent infection. Whether you have the virus or not, hand washing can remove the germs that carry the virus from person to person or body part to body part. Children, in particular, should be reminded to wash their hands before, during, and after any of the aforementioned risky activities.
If you spot the telltale lesions or growths, make an appointment with your dermatologist immediately. No, it isn’t a serious condition, but it’s always a good idea to have a professional look it. More often than not, he/she will give you information, advice, and possibly topical solutions that will help prevent the virus from spreading to other parts of your body, or to other people.
For more information about this common skin condition, speak to your dermatologist.