Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a viral infection that is seen commonly in infants and children less than 10 years old, but can occur in anyone. It is seen more in warm climate regions, in overcrowded places and in immunodeficient people.
Molluscum contagiosum appears as clusters of small round lesions (papules), varying in size and can be white, brown or pink in color. These lesions have a waxy, shiny look and contains a central pit which has a cheesy material in it.
It is a self-limiting viral infection and usually gets better without any specific treatment; however, it can spread to other areas of the body and cause complications which will take a longer time to recover. Molluscum contagiosum can cause serious complication in immunodeficient people.
Complications Of Molluscum Contagiosum
Impetigo/ Secondary Bacterial Infections
Secondary bacterial infections are a complication of molluscum contagiosum. It induces dermatitis which makes the lesions pink and itchy, when the child scratches these lesions, the skin gets damaged which gives access to the bacteria to enter the skin. Impetigo is a very contagious skin infection and its commonly seen in infants and children. Impetigo appears as red sores and then the sore burst up and develop into a honey-colored crusts.
Antibiotics are needed to treat the condition and prevent it spreading to other areas. Until 24 hours after the initiation of antibiotics impetigo is contagious, therefore keep your child at home for few days. This can be a serious condition in people with HIV or those who take immunosuppressive drugs, it can even can cause a systemic infection if not diagnosed early and treated.
If secondary infection is by Staphylococcus aureus it can even lead to an abscess formation and Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause necrotizing cellulitis.
Conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is a complication of molluscum contagiosum. When the eyelids and conjunctiva are infected, conjunctivitis can develop as a secondary infection. The eyes will be red, itchy, and sore. There is no specific treatment for viral conjunctivitis, it will resolve on its own within several days.
Disseminated Secondary Eczema. The exact cause is unknown may be due to an immunological reaction. It is an acute generalized symmetrical acute eczema that causes severe itching and often disturbs sleep.
Widespread And Numerous Mollusca. These Mollusca lesions are larger and seen in most parts of the body. These large lesions are seen often in the face and usually in immunodeficient patients such as HIV patients or patients on immunosuppressive drugs.
Scarring. After the molluscum contagiosum has cleared the lesion are healed there will be small patches of paler skin on the areas where the molluscum patches were present. These scars are more prominent if there was a secondary infection. Scrapping or scooping the lesions can form a scar, therefore physical removal of the lesion is not recommended.
Cellulitis. This is not commonly seen in molluscum contagiosum patients, usually seen in patients infected with HIV.
Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a viral infection that is seen commonly in infants and children less than 10 years old, but can occur in anyone. It is a self-limiting viral infection and usually gets better without any specific treatment; however it can spread to other areas of the body and cause complications which will take a longer time to recover. Molluscum contagiosum can cause serious complication in immunodeficient people. The complications are. impetigo/ secondary bacterial infections, conjunctivitis, disseminated secondary eczema, widespread and numerous mollusca, scarring, and cellulitis.
- DermNet New Zealand. (2021). Molluscum contagiosum. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/molluscum-contagiosum/
- American Academy of Dermatology Association. (2022). Molluscum Contagiosum: Signs and Symptoms. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/molluscum-contagiosum-symptoms
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