Mollusca Contagiosa

The aim of this leaflet

This leaflet is designed to help you understand more about mollusca contagiosa during pregnancy. It tells you what they are, what causes them, what can be done about them, and where you can find more information about them.

What are mollusca contagiosa?

Mollusca contagiosa are an infectious disease caused by a virus. They are small (1-5mm), firm, skin coloured, papules often with a central indentation, grouped or scattered anywhere on the body. Usually there are many of them but occasionally there is only one (they may be larger in that case). Usually they do not cause pain or itch.

How is the diagnosis of mollusca contagiosa made?

Because of their typical appearance, the lesions are normally easy to diagnose by looking at them.
In case of doubt, an examination under the microscope can be performed; in this case one papule is scraped off and sent to the laboratory for further examination.

What causes them?

Mollusca contagiosa are caused by a virus infection. They spread from one person to an other and spread from one site of the body to the surrounding skin.

Who is at risk of acquiring the disease?

The disease occurs worldwide and is common in children. It is usually not caught by occasional contacts but close child-to-child or person-to-person contact.

In people with atopic dermatitis/eczema, mollusca contagiosa often occur at the sites of the eczema.

People with a compromised immune system (HIV infection, transplant patients) have a higher risk of acquiring mollusca contagiosa and may have widespread disease.

Mollusca contagiosa in pregnancy

During pregnancy the immune system is altered, therefore, pregnant women may have a higher risk of acquiring mollusca.

There are no risks for the unborn child; however, the disease may spread to the baby once it is born.

Complications

Mollusca contagiosa may get inflamed (irritation, bacterial infection), then they may be painful; in immunocompromised patients you may find very many mollusca (generalized disease)

How should mollusca contagiosa be treated?

There are several possibilities how you can deal with mollusca contagiosa:
(1) Doing nothing is one option, because they will in most patients eventually disappear by themselves. However, as long as you have them they may spread to other people.
(2) Some simple measures cause the spots to become inflamed and then to go away. These include squeezing the spots out with a pair of forceps, and piercing them with a small sharp stick.
(3) Mild cryotherapy (2-3 seconds freezing them with liquid nitrogen)
(4) Scraping off the lesions (curettage) after numbing the skin with an anaesthetic cream
(5) Other therapies are not proven to be safe in pregnancy and are not routinely used.

Where can I find more information about mollusca contagiosa?

Web links to detailed leaflets:

www.emedicine.com/emerg/topic317.htm

www.emedicine.com/derm/topic270.htm

While every effort has been made to ensure that the information given in this leaflet is accurate, Your own doctor will be able to advice in greater detail. December 2007.

This leaflet has been prepared by the EADV task force “skin disease in pregnancy”, it does not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the EADV