Molluscum contagiosum is a common but not fully understood viral disease caused by a fungus. Most often, the disease is diagnosed in children of kindergarten age, less often in adolescents.
In adults, this is a very rare phenomenon that most patients do not pay attention to, allowing the disease to progress and be transmitted to others. The infection does not pose a big threat to life and health, but it causes a lot of psychological inconvenience, as it spoils the appearance of men and women, makes them change their usual way of life.
Reasons for development
The causative agent of the disease is a fungus of the poxyvirus family. When examining a microorganism under a microscope, you can see that its appearance resembles a clam shell, which gave it such a name. Contagious means “contagious”, so the disease is easily transmitted from a sick person to a healthy one.
Since the immune system of children is not yet fully formed, and their skin is thinner and more delicate, it is the babies who most often suffer from the manifestations of the virus. The appearance of molluscum contagiosum in adult women and men is due to the characteristics of the epidermis, the presence of autoimmune diseases, non-compliance with personal hygiene rules and other factors.
Scientists distinguish four types of fungus, each of which provokes the appearance of typical symptoms of the disease. So, pathologies in adults and adolescents are caused by the first and second types of the virus, their transmission is due to unprotected sexual contact with carriers of the infection. The third and fourth types are characteristic of the domestic route of transmission of the infection, therefore, patients of any age, including children, are exposed to their action.
The first and second types of the virus contribute to the development of genital forms of infection, that is, the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum in the inguinal zone and on the genitals.
This microorganism has a DNA structure, and therefore immunity to it in a patient is developed for a very long time. This allows the infection to be present in the body of a child or adult for a long time without showing itself as alarming signs. Activation of fungi occurs at times when natural protection is weakened by external or internal factors. The most common are:
- severe pathologies of a long course, chronic ailments;
- autoimmune diseases, including HIV infection;
- taking strong drugs, antibiotics;
- malignant tumors;
- skin injuries;
- hormonal disorders.
At first appearance, the fungus may look like a wart, which is why it is confused with another common disease – the human papillomavirus. Only a specialist can distinguish between formations: the mollusk is characterized by a uniform rash, and never affects the palms and soles of the feet.
Ways of infection
Since the features of the pathology are not fully understood, the appearance of rashes is taken as an exacerbation of the disease and it is believed that during this period of time the patient poses the greatest threat to loved ones. Transmission is possible by household contact through household hygiene items, dishes, bedding or through unprotected sexual contact.
The incubation period for the fungus is two to eight weeks. At this time, microorganisms are present on the skin in search of ways to penetrate the body (in case the infection was transmitted through personal items, and not during sex). To reduce the stage of incubation and increase the risk of infection can:
- skin injuries;
- water procedures (pool, sauna, river, etc.), which contribute to skin swelling and opening of pores;
- violation of the rules of personal hygiene, the use of other people’s cosmetic accessories;
- sports activities – a common locker room, shower room, sports equipment provide closer contact with microorganisms.
Most adult men and women have strong immunity, so external symptoms do not appear, as the immune system produces antibodies to pathogens in a timely manner. In those whose immunobiological protection is weakened, the virus begins to multiply actively, soon manifesting itself in rashes.
Manifestations of the disease
What does molluscum contagiosum look like? This is a small nodule protruding above the skin, its shape is rounded, inside there is a small depression. Usually has a skin color or a slightly more pink tint. The sizes of the rashes are different: the diameter of the nodule can be from a few millimeters to two to four centimeters. At the initial stage, there is one formation, but after a few days their number increases. The reason is the independent spread of the infection throughout the body when touched by hands or by rubbing clothes.
Since the main route of transmission of infection in boys and girls is sexual, a molluscum contagiosum first appears on the pubis and in the inguinal region. In children, the “favorite” habitat of the fungus is the face: eyelids, corners of the mouth, nose, that is, those parts of the body that are most often touched by little fingers.
In women, molluscum contagiosum develops in the groin: nodules form on the large and small labia, around the anus, lower abdomen, and on the inner thighs. In men, molluscum contagiosum is located on the penis, scrotum, around the anus.
The penis suffers more than other parts of the intimate zone: active friction during sexual contact allows the virus to cover the trunk, frenulum and the head itself.
IMPORTANT! Unlike papillomas, the mollusk does not affect the mucous membranes of the body, therefore there are no “warts” on the urethra, in the rectum or in the vagina.
Patients do not experience any other symptoms. The state of health remains normal, pain and allergic reactions are absent. Very rarely, an infected person feels a slight itch, which causes scratching of the rash. When pressing on the nodule, a clear liquid or mass resembling cottage cheese is released from it.
Such separable is a direct source of infection, as it contains a large number of pathogenic microorganisms. This exudate is also considered a true diagnostic sign of molluscum contagiosum, since in other similar pathologies, the discharge is absent or has a different character.
How to treat molluscum contagiosum?
There are several methods of dealing with the disease, they depend on the stage of the disease, the presence of other chronic pathologies in the patient, and the place of localization. But before you start treatment of molluscum contagiosum in adults and children, you should undergo a series of medical examinations that will establish the type and type of pathogen, the presence of contraindications to each type of therapy. Pathology can be treated with medication at home or the rash can be removed in a hospital (minimally invasive surgery).
IMPORTANT! Most doctors lean towards drug treatment, as the virus does not pose a threat to health and is more of a cosmetic problem. If pharmaceuticals are chosen correctly, the disease can be cured completely and very quickly.
The main task of drug therapy is to strengthen the immune system. If the body’s defenses are restored, the virus will die, and will no longer bother with unaesthetic formations.
Therapy includes the following drugs:
- immunomodulatory agents for local and internal use (special sprays and ointments increase local immunity, and vitamin complexes strengthen it from the inside);
- local preparations with silver nitrate, the most effective active ingredient against molluscum contagiosum;
- antiviral drugs – have a complex effect, as they fight the pathogen and increase immune defense;
- antibiotics – prescribed as a last resort, if the natural defense is weakened by chronic pathologies or antiviral drugs do not bring the desired effect.
The disadvantage of this treatment is a long period: sometimes taking medication is delayed for several months.
Surgery helps to quickly cope with the disease, offering the following methods:
- plucking the rash with tweezers and treating the site of the nodule with an antiseptic;
- cauterization with liquid nitrogen;
- exposure to low frequency current;
- laser therapy.
All procedures are carried out in a hospital with a preliminary complete medical examination. The patient is discharged home the next day after the removal of all warts.
Is it possible to treat molluscum contagiosum in men and women using traditional medicine? Yes. A good therapeutic effect is exerted by iodine, a solution of manganese, celandine, herbal decoctions. But before using non-traditional recipes, you should make sure that the rashes are caused by really molluscum contagiosum, and also get specialist approval for the use of such methods. Otherwise, self-treatment will result in serious consequences and long-term, serious therapy.