Molluscum contagiosum: Who gets and causes

Who gets molluscum contagiosum?

This skin disease is most often seen in children. People who live in a tropical climate also are more likely to get molluscum. The virus thrives in a warm, humid place. Having atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema, also increases the risk of getting molluscum contagiosum.

When a person has a weak immune system due to a medical condition such as AIDS or treatment for cancer, the person can get a serious case of molluscum contagiosum.

What causes molluscum contagiosum?

A virus causes molluscum. There are 2 ways to get this virus:

  1. Touch something infected with the virus. You can get molluscum by using an infected towel. You can get it from touching infected clothing or toys. Wrestlers and gymnasts get it from touching infected mats.

  2. Have direct skin-to-skin contact. Children often get molluscum because they have lots of direct skin-to-skin contact with others. People who participate in contact sports such as wrestling get molluscum from the direct skin-to-skin contact. Teens and adults often get the virus through sexual contact.

Once infected with the virus, a person can spread the virus to other parts the body. Scratching or picking at bumps on the skin and then touching skin that does not have bumps can spread the virus and cause new bumps. Your dermatologist may call this self-re-infection.

Learn more about molluscum contagiosum:

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