Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus that is a member of the poxvirus family. Pox-viruses are brick or oval-shaped viruses.
The virus may be sexually transmitted by skin-to-skin contact (does not have to be mucous membranes) and/or lesions. It appears most common in children but can affect adults as well — especially those with weakened immune systems.
In adults with an otherwise normal immune system, molluscum contagiosum involving the genitals is considered a sexually transmitted infection.
It can be spread sexually and by non-sexual contact through contaminated objects like towels, clothing or sex toys.
Symptoms include shiny, smooth, white, dimpled bumps, with a curd-like core and itching on the genitals and trunk area. Bumps on the skin can be the only sign that a person has molluscum contagiosum. These bumps often appear about 7 weeks after being exposed to the virus that causes molluscum. Sometimes, the bumps do not appear for many months.
When the bumps appear on the skin, they often:
• Begin as small, firm, dome-shaped growths.
• Have a surface that feels smooth, waxy, or pearly.
• Are flesh-coloured or pink.
• Have a dimple in the centre (The dimple may be filled with a thick, white substance that is cheesy or waxy).
• Are painless, but some bumps itch.
• Turn red as the person’s immune system fights the virus.
• Appear on other areas of the body after a person scratches or picks the bumps (Scratching or picking can spread the virus)