What is the Danger of Having Molluscum Contagiosum?

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If you’ve got a rash then you might be worried about what it means for your health. Being diagnosed with a serious-sounding condition such as molluscum contagiosum can just make you feel more confused, but the good news is that this rash sounds worse than it is.

What is Molluscum Contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection that can affect your skin. It is most often seen in children, but you can get it at any age. Most people will just have a rash of small, firm, raised spots or papules. The rash may start in one place and then spread to other parts of your body. The most common areas to be affected are the armpits, the backs of the knees and the groin.

Risks of Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum isn’t a dangerous condition. It doesn’t usually cause any serious problems. You won’t need to take time off and the symptoms will usually go away by themselves. However, there are a few potential risks that you should be aware of:

  • You could spread it to other people, so it’s important to keep the affected areas covered, avoid skin-to-skin contact, and don’t share towels
  • It can cause problems if you have a weakened immune system
  • You could develop a secondary bacterial infection that might require antibiotics
  • Scarring is rare, but if you scratch the spots or they get infected then there might be some indentations or discolouration left behind
  • Spots close to your eye could lead to secondary eye infections

When Should You Get Treatment for Molluscum Contagiosum?

It’s always a good idea to see a doctor if you have a rash. Even if you’re sure that your symptoms match the description of molluscum contagiosum, it’s important to have the diagnosis confirmed by an expert. Molluscum contagiosum isn’t usually serious, but your rash could be caused by something else.

Molluscum contagiosum will usually clear up by itself without causing any serious problems, but the rash can by itchy and embarrassing. You might have to wait up to 18 months for the symptoms to disappear by themselves. Molluscum contagiosum can also be more serious if you have other health problems. If you have a weakened immune system or if the spots are painful or close to your eyes, then it is particularly important to see a doctor. You might also need to get treatment if you are in close contact with someone who is at risk because of a weakened immune system.

If you and your dermatologist decide that it’s best to treat the condition rather than to wait for the symptoms to go away, you might be given a cream to use or a treatment such as cryotherapy to remove the spots.

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