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Molluscum Treatment St. Louis

Pearly umbilicated papule characteristic of molluscum.

Molluscum contagiosum is a common viral skin infection caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV). It manifests as small, raised bumps on the skin, known as molluscum bumps or spots. This condition primarily affects children and individuals with weakened immune systems. MCV belongs to the poxvirus family and is highly contagious, spreading through direct contact with infected individuals or contaminated objects. The infection typically resolves on its own within 6 to 12 months, but it can persist for longer periods in some cases. While molluscum contagiosum is generally harmless, it can cause discomfort and lead to scarring if left untreated. At Mid-County Dermatology in St. Louis, MO, we recommend seeking medical attention for proper diagnosis and management of this skin infection.

Causes and Symptoms of Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a contagious skin infection that requires medical attention from a dermatologist in St. Louis. It is caused by direct contact with an infected person or contaminated objects, and its symptoms can vary in severity.

Contagious Transmission

Molluscum contagiosum is primarily spread through skin-to-skin contact, such as during play, sports activities, or intimate contact. It can also be transmitted by sharing personal items like towels or clothing. If you come into contact with someone who has molluscum contagiosum or touch their belongings, there's a chance you could contract it.

Characteristic Skin Bumps

One of the hallmark symptoms is the appearance of small, painless bumps on the skin. These bumps typically have a characteristic dimple in the center and may start off as tiny flesh-colored papules but can grow larger over time. While generally not painful, they can become itchy or inflamed due to scratching or irritation.

Widespread Distribution

Molluscum contagiosum lesions can appear anywhere on the body, including the face, neck, arms, hands, trunk, and genital area. In children, lesions often occur in areas prone to friction from clothing or rubbing during play. In adults, lesions may also affect the genital area due to sexual transmission.

Clustering Pattern

These lesions tend to cluster together in groups rather than being scattered randomly across the body. This clustering pattern makes them easier to identify and distinguish from other skin conditions. The number of lesions can vary greatly from just a few to several hundred.

If you notice any of these symptoms or suspect you may have molluscum contagiosum, it's crucial to seek medical attention from a dermatologist in St. Louis for proper diagnosis and treatment. Early intervention can help prevent the spread of this contagious infection and provide relief from any associated discomfort.

Contagious Nature of Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a highly contagious viral skin infection that can easily spread through close physical contact. The virus can be transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. It's important to understand the contagious nature of this condition to take necessary precautions and prevent its spread.

Molluscum contagiosum is highly contagious, meaning it can be easily passed from one person to another. Close physical contact, such as touching or rubbing against someone with the infection, increases the risk of transmission. This includes activities like hugging, wrestling, or playing contact sports.

Apart from direct skin-to-skin contact, sharing personal items like towels, clothing, or bedding can also contribute to the spread of molluscum contagiosum. The virus can survive on surfaces for a short period of time and can be transferred when an uninfected person comes into contact with contaminated objects.

To avoid spreading the infection through shared items:

  • Avoid sharing towels or clothing with someone who has molluscum contagiosum.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with any potentially contaminated surfaces.

Scratching or picking at the molluscum bumps on your own body can cause them to rupture and release infectious fluid. This fluid contains live virus particles that are capable of infecting nearby areas of your skin or being transmitted to others. It is crucial to avoid scratching or picking at these bumps to prevent further spread.

Here are some tips to prevent self-infection:

  • Keep your hands clean and avoid touching the affected areas unnecessarily.

  • If you accidentally touch a bump, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

  • Cover the bumps with clothing or bandages to prevent direct contact.

Remember, molluscum contagiosum is most contagious when the bumps are present and visible. However, even after the bumps have resolved, it is still possible to transmit the virus until your body's immune system completely clears it.

Diagnosis of Molluscum Contagiosum

To diagnose molluscum contagiosum, our St. Louis dermatology team primarily relies on visual examination of the characteristic skin lesions. The distinctive appearance of the bumps helps in identifying the condition. However, in some cases, additional diagnostic methods may be employed to confirm the presence of MCV (Molluscum Contagiosum Virus).

Visual Examination

Visual examination is often the first step in diagnosing molluscum contagiosum. Doctors carefully observe the skin lesions to look for specific characteristics that are typical of this viral infection. These include small, dome-shaped bumps with a central dimple or indentation, usually flesh-colored or pearly white in appearance.


In certain situations where there is doubt about the diagnosis or if other skin conditions need to be ruled out, a dermatologist may perform a biopsy. During a biopsy, a small sample of tissue is taken from one of the lesions and sent to a laboratory for analysis. This procedure helps to definitively confirm the presence of MCV.

Magnifying Lens Examination

Our BJC dermatologists may use a magnifying lens or dermatoscope to examine the molluscum contagiosum lesions more closely. This allows for a detailed inspection of individual bumps and can help differentiate them from other similar-looking skin conditions.

Diagnostic Tests

While visual examination and biopsy are usually sufficient for diagnosis, there are also diagnostic tests available that can detect the presence of MCV DNA in lesion samples. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and viral culture techniques can provide further confirmation.

It's important to note that self-diagnosis based solely on visual appearance can lead to misdiagnosis since there are other skin conditions with similar symptoms. Therefore, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Diagnosing molluscum contagiosum involves careful observation and sometimes additional tests such as biopsies or magnifying lens examinations. These methods help to ensure an accurate diagnosis and differentiate molluscum contagiosum from other skin conditions that may have similar appearances.

Preventing the Spread of Molluscum Contagiosum in St. Louis

To effectively manage and prevent the spread of molluscum contagiosum in St. Louis, there are several key steps individuals can take. By following these guidelines, you can minimize the risk of transmission and promote faster healing.

1. Keeping Affected Areas Clean and Dry

Maintaining good hygiene is crucial in managing molluscum contagiosum. Keep the affected areas clean and dry to prevent secondary infections. Gently washing with mild soap and water removes dirt and debris, aiding in infection prevention. Pat the area dry with a clean towel afterward.

2. Avoid Sharing Personal Items

Molluscum contagiosum spreads easily through direct contact or contaminated objects. Reduce transmission risk by refraining from sharing personal items like towels, razors, or clothing with others. Such items can harbor the virus, facilitating its spread.

3. Practice Good Hand Hygiene

Proper hand hygiene is essential to minimize transmission. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to eliminate potential viruses. When soap and water are unavailable, use hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol to reduce transmission.

4. Minimize Contact in High-Risk Environments

Settings like schools or healthcare facilities pose an increased risk of spread due to close contact. Take extra precautions in these environments by avoiding direct skin-to-skin contact, practicing good hygiene, and promptly notifying relevant authorities about suspected cases.

5.. Educate Others About the Infection

Raising awareness about molluscum contagiosum is vital for preventing its spread within communities. Educate others about the infection and its transmission methods to contribute to a safer environment. Encourage open communication and provide accurate information to dispel misconceptions.

By implementing these strategies, individuals in St. Louis can effectively manage and prevent the spread of molluscum contagiosum.

Treatment for Molluscum Contagiosum in St. Louis

Most cases of molluscum contagiosum resolve on their own within 6-12 months without any treatment. However, in some cases, treatment may be necessary to alleviate symptoms and promote faster healing. Our dermatologists offer various treatment options depending on the severity and location of the lesions.


Cryotherapy is a common treatment option for molluscum contagiosum. It involves freezing off individual lesions with liquid nitrogen. The extremely cold temperature destroys the virus and causes the lesions to fall off within a few weeks.


  • Effective in removing individual lesions

  • Quick procedure that can be done in a dermatologist's office

  • Minimal discomfort during the procedure


  • May cause temporary redness, blistering, or scarring at the treated site

  • Multiple sessions may be required for complete clearance

  • Not suitable for treating large clusters of lesions

Cantharidin/Cantherone Solution

Cantharidin/Cantherone solution is another topical treatment option we use to treat larger clusters of molluscum contagiosum. This solution contains an active ingredient that helps cause the molluscum lesions to blister off.


  • Can be applied directly to the affected area

  • Effective in treating larger clusters of lesions

  • Generally well-tolerated with minimal side effects


  • Requires consistent application over several weeks

  • May cause skin irritation or redness at the application site

  • Not recommended for use on children under 2 years old or during pregnancy

Other Treatment Options

In addition to cryotherapy and cantharidin solutions, dermatologists may consider other treatment options based on individual cases:

  1. Curettage: This involves scraping off the molluscum bumps using a small instrument called a curette.

  2. Vitamin A creams: A topical medication that stimulates the immune system to fight against the virus.

It's important to consult with our skin doctors for proper diagnosis and guidance on the most suitable treatment option for molluscum contagiosum. They can assess the severity of the condition and recommend an appropriate course of action based on individual circumstances.

Nonprescription Products for Molluscum Contagiosum

In the quest for relief from molluscum contagiosum, nonprescription products offer a convenient and accessible solution. These over-the-counter remedies are formulated to help manage symptoms and promote healing. From topical creams to natural remedies, a variety of treatment options are available to individuals in St. Louis seeking relief from this contagious skin condition.

When considering nonprescription products for molluscum contagiosum, it's crucial to prioritize safety and efficacy. Look for products containing ingredients known for their antiviral and soothing properties, such as vitamin A (retinol or differing gel) tea tree oil, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide. Combining these ingredients with Cetaphil cream can be effective in reducing molluscum lesions.


What are some common nonprescription treatments for molluscum contagiosum?

There are several common nonprescription treatments available for molluscum contagiosum. These include topical creams containing ingredients like tea tree oil or salicylic acid, which have antiviral properties that may help reduce symptoms.

How long does it typically take for nonprescription treatments to show results?

The effectiveness of nonprescription treatments can vary depending on factors such as individual response and severity of the infection. It is important to carefully follow the instructions provided with each product and be patient as it may take several weeks or even months to see noticeable improvement.

Can I use multiple nonprescription treatments simultaneously?

It is generally recommended to avoid using multiple treatments simultaneously without consulting a dermatologist. Combining different products may increase the risk of skin irritation or adverse reactions. It is best to stick to one treatment method at a time and seek guidance from a healthcare provider if unsure.

Are there any side effects associated with nonprescription treatments for molluscum contagiosum?

While nonprescription treatments are generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience mild skin irritation or redness at the application site. If you notice any concerning or persistent side effects, it is advisable to discontinue use and consult a dermatologist.

Can nonprescription treatments completely cure molluscum contagiosum?

Nonprescription treatments can help manage the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum and promote healing; however, they may not guarantee complete eradication of the virus. In some cases, medical intervention may be necessary for more severe or persistent infections. It is recommended to consult with a dermatologist for personalized advice and treatment options.

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