Dr. med. Dirk Manski

 You are here: Urology Textbook

Molluscum Contagiosum: Virus, Diagnosis, and Treatment


Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the epidermis with pearly papules (CDC Guidelines, 2021).

Epidemiology of Molluscum Contagiosum

Risk groups for molluscum contagiosum are children, adolescents, sports with skin-to-skin contact, sexually active persons, and patients with immune deficiency.

Etiology of Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV):

DNA virus of the pox group. Incubation period 2–7 weeks. Transmission from human to human via skin-to-skin contact or inanimate vectors (e.g., towels).

Signs and Symptoms


Diagnosis is possible with inspection only; a biopsy is necessary for untypical lesions, which show virus-infected cells with DNA-containing inclusion bodies.

Treatment of Molluscum Contagiosum

Natural course:

Molluscum contagiosum is usually a self-limiting disease that lasts several months to two years. Observation without active treatment is possible. Widespread and persistent disease is possible in patients with immunodeficiency (HIV).

Topical therapy:

Local application of cantharidin, imiquimod, podophyllotoxin, and numerous other substances have been effectively used against molluscum contagiosum. Disadvantages include side effects and high cost.

Surgical therapy:

Curettage followed by iodine-containing disinfection. Alternative techniques: cryosurgery or laser treatment. Disadvantages include pain and scarring.

Index: 1–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Bikowski 2004 BIKOWSKI, Jr.: Molluscum contagiosum: the need for physician intervention and new treatment options.
In: Cutis
73 (2004), Nr. 3, S. 202–6

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: “Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Treatment Guidelines,” 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment-guidelines/STI-Guidelines-2021.pdf

Smith und Skelton 2002 SMITH, K. J. ; SKELTON, H.: Molluscum contagiosum: recent advances in pathogenic mechanisms, and new therapies.
In: Am J Clin Dermatol
3 (2002), Nr. 8, S. 535–45

Ting und Dytoc 2004 TING, P. T. ; DYTOC, M. T.: Therapy of external anogenital warts and molluscum contagiosum: a literature review.
In: Dermatol Ther
17 (2004), Nr. 1, S. 68–101

Tyring 2003 TYRING, S. K.: Molluscum contagiosum: the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.
In: Am J Obstet Gynecol
189 (2003), Nr. 3 Suppl, S. S12–6

  Deutsche Version: Molluscum contagiosum: virale Infektion der Haut.