Less is known about molluscum contagiosum than about herpes or HPV. MC is virtually never serious--that is, it's an inconvenience, not a serious health threat, so there hasn't been much research. Some basic facts: MC virus infection is among toddlers, among whom it is transmitted through saliva, with lesions occurring mostly on the face. Infected kids then become immune, so they can't get it again. Children who don't catch MC grow up as adults who have never been exposed and are not immune. In adults, the virus is transmitted sexually. Lesions occur mostly near the genitals, e.g. the pubic area, scrotum, outer labia, upper thighs, etc; but sometimes they occur directly on the genitals (penis, inner labia, vaginal opening). In theory, MCV can be transmitted among adults by contact that doesn't involve sex, and there probably are more exceptions to sexual transmission tha for genital HPV or genital HSV. However, the large majority of adults with genital area infection acquired MCV sexually.
As to your specific questions, some of which are answered above:
1) Among adults, mostly by sex; among kids, skin-to-skin or by saliva.
2) Asymptomatic transmission has not been studied. I suspect it happens. However, asymptomatic cases probably mean that a mild case was missed--i.e., symptoms present but not noticed.
3) Indirect transmission has not been studied. If it occurs, it must be rare. Otherwise, infections would be common in household members who are not sexual contacts of an infected person, and lesions would occur all over (e.g., arms, trunk, legs, etc), not just the genital area.
4) In theory perhaps yes. For practical purposes, probably not.
6) The exact frequency of sexually transmitted MC isn't known. Among patients attending STD clinics, it's less common chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, or genital warts. But I wouldn't call it rare.
Thanks for the thanks. HHH, MD
I would like to add a molluscum question to this thread, as I have looked in previous posts and can't find the answer. Is molluscum along the same lines as HPV, meaning does your body get rid of it at some point. I had it several years ago and have not had it since. Am I now cured? Thanks!
It isn't known whether the MCV continues in a latent fashion, as sometimes happens with HPV. It probably does, at least some of the time; MC of the face sometimes is seen in people with advanced AIDS, presumably because as the immune system fails, there is reactivation of a distant childhood infection. But I have never seen a new case of MC in a healthy adult with previous genital area infection.
I just have another question about this. I read all the posts in this forum regarding this virus but I was just wondering if its okay to have sex still. My boyfriend was told he has it and they put the acid on it to make it go away. Is it okay to have sex with a condom? I do not have any symptoms at all. Is this something I might have given him? How can he have gotton it from sexual contact if I have no symptoms?
Also, does this usually reappear? We just moved in together and we share towels. The doctor said that was probably how he got it. I just don't understand why I don't have it if its considered an std.
I really have learned a lot from this forum, I have a few questions myself. My Dermatoligist told me back in March that I had a warts. They were in my groin area and a few at the base of the penis. He treated them by injecting infereon and using the loop procedure to cut them off. I had a bad case in my groin and he performed this procedure, it was successful but they reoccurred a few weeks later. So I went back again and same procedure, after this he perscribed Aldara. The warts did return but only a few returned and I have been using Aldara for eleven weeks now. I also started using tea tree oil the days that I am not using Aldara,(aldare used three times a week) Basically, I still have visiably warts in the groin, they are smaller and red, no itching ever, even when they were bad and they have never hurt me at all, just have been in the groin area. I don't smoke and I rarely drink, also started taking vitamins and a mens one a day vitamin, to boost my immune system. My question is, should I continue to use aldara until the 16th week, like the product says, and ust the tree tea oil, every other day? What is the chances of these things coming back again after another treatment, and should I try a different treatment besides the infereon injections? Very stressed about this, I can't eat or sleep, I feel emotionally destroyed at times, my partner has been very supportive, but this is taking a toll on her as well. Please any advice would be supportive, I appreciate your help. Thank You!
I meant to also comment on interferon. It is an expensive, uncomfortable (as you probably found out) treatment that doesn't work any better than some of the other options. However, the fact that your dermatologist tried interferon, cautery (loop), and imiquimod (Aldara) suggests you may have a particularly resistant set of warts, and I can understand how the situation is upsetting. Didn't mean to give an insensitive response.
But my basic advice still stands. The more unusual the case, the less I can help; you really need to return to the dermatologist for continued assessment and perhaps different treatment advice. And you might want to consider asking for referral for a second opinion.
Good luck-- HHH, MD
jmestyle: If you were having sex with your BF before his MC appeared, you already have been exposed, so you may as well continue having sex. It isn't transmitted by towels (see my first response in this thread). There are lots of explanations why you might not have an STD that your boyfriend does: you are immune from a childhood MCV infection, which most of us have; you have an asymptomatic infection; you're going to get it, it just hasn't shown up yet; and perhaps others.
michael 1014: No treatment for warts works all the time, and Aldara works no more than 2/3 of the time, maybe only half the time in men. (It works better for women than men). If your warts haven't cleared up after 4 weeks of Aldara, they're not going to. You need to return to your dermatologist for confirmatioon that the residual lesions are warts and not scar tissue; and if they are warts, get a recommendation for alternative treatment (there are several options). There is no evidence that tea tree oil is effective against warts. Good for you for not smoking, taking vitamins, and otherwise staying healthy. But those things won't "boost" the immune system or otherwise help clear your warts. In any case, don't be so upset; warts are just the unlucky thing that happens to some people, but not all, who get certain HPV strains, and we all get HPV. They are an inconvenience, not an important health threat, and they don't mean you are "contaminated" or "unclean". It's just a wart!
A related discussion, Aldara reaction