Molluscum lesions are the visible symptoms of an infection of the skin caused by the Molluscum contagiosum virus, a type of poxvirus. The condition is transmitted via direct or indirect contact with the virus. In most cases, it is direct contact with others who are infected that is the cause of spreading, however the virus can also be present on objects such as clothing or towels, and spread from these to others. The risk of infection via indirect contact is generally lower than through direct contact.
What influences the risk of infection?
The condition is most easily transmitted where the skin is thin, and molluscum lesions thrive especially well in warm and damp areas of the body such as the armpits and in the bends of the knees and arms. The highest risk of infection is considered to be once the molluscum lesions have torn, or are close to breaking; then the virus spread and it will be easier to get in contact with it. The available data exhibits conflicting information regarding the extent of tampering with an intact lesion, i.e. whether or not tearing or imminent tearing is sufficient for one to be infected, or whether or not the lesions must actually break in order to spread the condition. For safety’s sake, it is better to avoid direct contact with the lesions as well as to refrain from tampering with them, in order to diminish the spreading of them on your own body.
Children become infected considerably more often than adults. It is probably the earlier exposure which gives adults a better defence against the virus. However, adults with a weakened immune system are more easily infected with molluscum contagiosum. In many adult cases, transmission through sexual contact is the reason for infection.
When is the risk of infection over?
The virus lives only in the outer layer of the skin, and nowhere else in the body. This implies that it cannot spread by any other means than through physical contact, and it cannot lie dormant in the body to reappear at a later stage. When the lesions is gone, the virus disappears from the body and is no longer contagious.