Vulvar molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection that occurs on the vulva, the external genital female organs. The virus is spread through direct skin contact and is often sexually transmitted in adults.
Cause of Vulvar Molluscum Contagiosum
Vulvar molluscum contagiosum is caused by an unclassified poxvirus. The virus commonly occurs in children and those with weakened immune systems, but molluscum contagiosum in adults is often sexually transmitted.
The virus can spread as long as the lesions are present. It may also be passed through contact with contaminated towels and personal items such as clothing.
Symptoms of Vulvar Molluscum Contagiosum
Vulvar molluscum contagiosum lesions typically appear 2-7 weeks after an individual comes in contact with the virus.
The bumps appear small, smooth, and firm with a depressed (umbilicated) center. They are often waxy in appearance and are approximately 2-5 millimeters in diameter – about the size of a pencil eraser. The lesions, containing a cheesy type plug, are sometimes itchy. However, scratching or rubbing can cause the bumps to spread.
Some individuals with vulvar molluscum contagiosum have only one or two lesions, while others develop multiple bumps. The bumps can spread throughout the genital region or to other parts of the body.
Diagnosing Vulvar Molluscum Contagiosum
Your gynecologist will probably be able to diagnose vulvar molluscum contagiosum by visual examination. In rare cases, a biopsy may be needed to rule out other conditions, including genital warts.
Treatment of Vulvar Molluscum Contagiosum
Although most cases of vulvar molluscum contagiosum eventually resolve on their own without treatment, lesions in the genital region should be treated to prevent spreading the infection to sexual partners. Treatment options include:
- Cryotherapy (freezing technique)
- Antiviral therapy
- Laser therapy
- Prescription creams or ointments
- Curettage – physical removal of the lesions
Condoms are not typically effective in preventing the spread of vulvar molluscum contagiosum because they do not offer protection to the entire genital region. Repeat cases of the virus can occur even after the original lesions have resolved.