5 Ways to Identify Molluscum Contagiosum

by Contributor ; Updated August 14, 2017

Look for Flesh-Colored Bumps

While other rashes may appear red and irritated, molluscum contagiosum papules are flesh-colored. Ranging between 2 and 5 millimeters wide, you may notice that the bumps are shinier than the rest of your skin. If you believe you've contracted the virus, look carefully at the papules to see if they have a depression in the center, where the viral umbilicus grows.

Examine Bumps for a Waxy, Indented Head

Another telltale sign of molluscum contagiosum is the presence of a smooth, pearly head in the center of each lesion. This head contains viral material, and the lesions can spread if scratched or broken open. If you're unsure if you have the condition, avoid scratching or picking at suspect papules until you confirm a diagnosis with your dermatologist.

Take Note of the Outbreak Location

In children, molluscum are most often found on the face, armpits, trunk and limbs, though they can develop anywhere. While adults can also develop the rash on their face, trunk or limbs, it's often found in the pubic region, where it spreads from sexual contact. Most of the time you'll find molluscum bumps developing in small families, grouped together in bunches or in areas where the person has scratched and spread them.

Watch for Bump Development in Eczema Patches

If you develop flesh-colored bumps on top of eczema outbreaks, see your dermatologist. Molluscum lesions flourish in dry environments, so you may be more prone to these viral breakouts if you have dermatitis or seborrhea. In addition, you may notice that your eczema symptoms escalate when you contract molluscum, particularly around the lesion sites. Scratching these itchy regions exacerbates the problem, so avoid the temptation to rub or touch them.

Keep an Eye Out for Spreading

Acne, moles and cysts will not typically spread when scratched. If your bumps seem to be spreading in areas where you've scratched or picked at them, they could be molluscum contagiosum. The molluscum virus is transferred when a lesion breaks open and the waxy core contacts clothing or skin, so it's important to cover the bumps with a bandage or tape to avoid transmitting the lesions to others or spreading them to new areas of your body.

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