Considered one of the most common skin diseases in the United States, molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) may not be directly harmful to your health, but nevertheless, there are serious misunderstandings when it comes to how this virus spreads and its true implications on your health. If you or someone you know is suffering from a molluscum contagiosum outbreak, continue reading to uncover the latest facts and treatment options.
Molluscum Contagiosum | Essential Facts and Information
The following facts are designed to enhance your knowledge and understanding of this common and widespread virus.
FACT: Molluscum Contagiosum is a Member of the Poxviridae Viral Family
The biological formation of molluscum contagiosum is a double-stranded poxvirus, which means it's closely related to the smallpox virus. However, data outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states the smallpox vaccination does not protect against infection. Although MCV is closely related to smallpox, it does not feature the same threat level to your overall health.
FACT: MCV Only Infects the Outermost Layer of Skin
Unlike many other skin-related viruses, molluscum contagiosum does not delve beyond the outermost layer of skin, known as the epidermis. According to AETC National Resource Center, molluscum contagiosum only infects specific skin cells, known as keratinocytes, which comprise roughly 95 percent of the skin cells within the epidermis. Because of its surface-level affliction, MCV features a limited lifespan.
FACT: MCV Can Disappear On Its Own Without Treatment
Molluscum contagiosum features a limited lifespan, which means it generally leaves your body after the virus has ran its course. Although the duration of an infection can dramatically vary based upon a number of factors, such as the health of your immune system and skin, the majority of sufferers experience relief within 6 to 12 months; however, there are reports where an active infection can take as long as four years to completely dissolve.
FACT: Unlike Popular Belief, MCV Is Not a Child-Only Affliction
Although roughly 10 percent of children under the age of 10 experience a molluscum contagiosum infection, it is not a pediatric-only infection. According to data outlined n the 2012 edition of the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, approximately 1 percent of all diagnosed skin conditions in the United States are molluscum contagiosum. While this virus can afflict all persons of all ages and health statuses, those with compromised immune systems are at a greater risk. In fact, between 5 and 20 percent of HIV patients are infected with MCV at least once in their lifetime.
FACT: Physical Symptoms Typically Showcase After 2 Weeks to 6 Months of Exposure to the Virus
While further research is required to fully understand the incubation period of molluscum contagiosum, the general population begins to develop symptoms within 2 weeks to 6 months after coming in contact with the virus. The growth of its benign lesions may be faster among those with specific medical conditions, such as atopic dermatitis or those with HIV infections.
FACT: Transmission Occurs via Skin-to-Skin Contact and Contact With Infected Objects
Generally, transmission of this contagious virus occurs from skin-to-skin contact, such as sexual activity, prolonged hugs or grazing against the skin of a person who has an active infection. Although, person-to-person contact is not the only way this virus is passed along. The virus may spread by spreading to inanimate objects, such as bedding, towels, toys and clothing. Because of this, it's imperative to never share objects with a person with an active infection.
FACT: The Size of MCV Growths Measure 2 to 5 Millimeters in Healthy Individuals
In healthy individuals, the average size of a molluscum contagiosum lesion measures between 2 and 5 millimeters. Lesions are generally grouped together in collections along the face, neck, arms, abdomen and inner thighs; however, MCV may infect almost every part of your body, except for the palms of hands or soles of feet. Growths are generally flesh-colored and feature a small dimple in its center.
FACT: You Can Spread MCV to Other Parts of Your Body
As with many skin viruses, such as herpes or warts, it's possible to spread MCV to other regions of your own body. For example, you scratch a growth and touch a non-infection portion of skin. The virus may then begin to infect healthy keratinocytes. To avoid this situation, it's imperative to cover growths with bandages and thoroughly wash your hands after touching a lesion.