Molluscum contagiosum is a skin disorder that is common among children, although anyone can get the virus, which can be sexually spread between adults. The symptoms can last for up to a year, and although medical treatment is rarely necessary in children, adults should seek treatment because molluscum contagiosum can increase susceptibility to other infections. Consider this information derived from the National Library of Medicine and the Mayo Clinic about the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum.
Itching is often an early symptom of infection with molluscum contagiosum, according to the National Library of Medicine. Symptoms of itching with molluscum contagiosum are not as severe as itching caused by other pox infections such as chickenpox. Scratching the areas of the body affected can spread the molluscum contagiosum virus to other parts of the body.
Lesions are a type of skin change caused by molluscum contagiosum, and according to the Mayo Clinic, can be transmitted through skin-to-skin or sexual contact as well as by sharing linens or clothing. Adults with molluscum contagiosum infections can more easily spread other sexually transmitted diseases such as genital herpes and warts through the open skin lesions. Intense scratching of the lesions can leave scarring on the skin.
Inflamed or swollen areas of skin called papules are a common symptom of molluscum contagiosum. The papules are less than 1/4 of an inch in diameter and can be nearly spherical in shape, with a very small dot in the middle of each. Children with molluscum contagiosum usually develop papules on the upper part of the body, including the face, arms, armpits and neck.
A straight-line rash is a symptom of molluscum contagiosum infections. Scratching of a lesion can spread the virus along the skin, and result in streaks--lines--of the infection. Other irritations to the skin, such as allergic reactions to clothing fibers, detergents or soaps can also cause molluscum contagiosum to develop into a streaked rash.
Molluscum contagiosum infections do not normally cause redness of the skin when the lesions and papules are left alone, but scratching at the affected areas can cause areas of redness . Lesions or papules that are irritated by elastic or straps in clothing, or other items such as a wristwatch or necktie can also become reddened.
Areas of skin affected by molluscum contagiosum can become swollen or inflamed. Papules that lose the center plug may become infected and swollen, especially papules on the face, armpits or hands. Symptoms such as swelling can also result from scratching or picking at the lesions.