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Paediatrics Paediatrics

Molluscum contagiosum

The skin is the body's main defence barrier against the invasion and growth of external infectious agents, to which we are exposed daily. Skin with an impaired barrier function, as in the case of atopic dermatitis, or an immature immune status, as in the case of babies and children, are factors facilitating the entry and colonisation of infectious agents, such as the Molluscum contagiosum virus.

What is it?

Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection of viral origin, which is a common reason for consultation in paediatric primary care and dermatology. Its causal agent is a virus in the poxvirus family: Molluscum contagiosum. 

How is it manifested?

Its incubation period ranges from 2 to 8 weeks. Its lesions are generally asymptomatic, with mild itching, and are highly variable in number, consisting of smooth dome-shaped papules that generally have a central depression, with a diameter of 1 to 5 mm. They are located in any area of the body and are generally grouped in specific areas, but may be spread out. 

Which complications does it involve?

The lesions can produce inflammation and rashes, particularly when they are located in the flexures (folds) and the child suffers from atopic dermatitis. Although it may be self-limited and remain unchanged for months or years, it is a highly contagious disease (through swimming pools, shared objects – sponges, towels, etc. -, and direct skin-to-skin contact). Children under 5 years of age are those most commonly affected and outbreaks can occur in schools.


It is very important to perform good hygiene (keep the affected areas clean and dry) and avoid scratching the lesions to prevent dissemination and possible secondary bacterial and fungal superinfections, in addition to promoting healing of the damaged skin.


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