The full name of the disease is Molluscum Contagiosum (which affects thousands of people in the US and other parts of the world) and the name itself is strikingly similar to ‘contagious’. So is there a relationship? While the history of how the name came into being is not exactly known, but one thing is sure – the disease is definitely contagious. But no one is certain whether the name Contagiosum was coined simply because it is contagious or not. However it is likely that this is how the disease got its name. What researchers and doctors are sure about is that it is a viral disease of the skin that affects a huge section of the population.
Almost anyone (both adults and children) is at risk. However there is a difference between how the virus attacks children and adults. Mostly it has been seen that this virus affects children. Research indicates that as many as 17% children have Molluscum Contagiosum. And this percentage breaks all social, geographical and economic barriers. However the incidence has been reported more from hot and humid tropical countries. Kids who are between the ages of 2 to 12 are most likely to have the disease. When a child has the disease, small bumps appear on the legs, arms, body and even the eyelids. These small bumps are shaped like a dome and look like – they look much like pearls.
Molluscum Contagiosum can also affect adults. In adults however the disease appears differently – the skin eruptions are in the inner thighs, buttocks, lower abdomen, and also the genitals. Though mostly children are affected with this disease, but experts are of the opinion that those adults who have a weakened immune system are more prone to be affected. Thus, this disease is also related to the immune system.
In case of adults, the virus that is behind the condition passes through sexual contact with an affected individual. Yes this is among the most wide spread sexually transmitted diseases (STD). There are various ways an adult can get it – through direct sexual intercourse (straight, oral or anal). But the infection can be contagious even if there is no sex but the person is just living in the same place with an affected individual. This is because of the high degree of spread of the disease.
But kids do not indulge in sex (at least they are not supposed to – and a vast majority don’t anyway). So how does the disease become contagious to children? Well, the disease can be spread just by sharing common places such as public conveyance, swimming pool, health club, school, and even by such innocent activities like sharing toys and using the same towel.
Now the good news. Though the virus that causes Molluscum Contagiosum is never completely eliminated from the body, but the disease is not contagious once the pearl shaped bumps are removed from the body. So as long as the bumps are there, Molluscum is contagious, and not after that.