Molluscum Contagiosum
June 1, 2005 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Dealing with Molluscum Contagiosum. MCV is a pesky skin virus common among children but also increasingly prevalent among adults, and treatment is not always trivial. How do you deal with being contagious?

I have grown exceedingly cautious of physical contact (even with myself, since MCV is auto-inoculating: imagine not be able to touch your face without washing your hands afterwards!), and now I'm entering a relationship with a girl where physical contact is necessary; in fact, we are already at the kissing/cuddling stage, and I have slept next to her on two occasions. I'm frozen up with the fear that I may have already infected her, and obviously feel like a real bastard for not having told her yet. It's hard to confront someone with this information: not only because I'm ashamed of my condition, but also she would really have to choose between risking infection, and not getting involved with me. While I don't want to lose her, I truly don't want to inflict this condition on anyone else, and the thought that I might have infected people in the past (which, to my knowledge, I have not) disturbs and saddens me immensely.

How do you deal with the social aspect of this disease? When, if at all, do you tell a person that you're contagious? I'm so psychologically disturbed and ashamed by the condition that rather than explaining beforehand, I would rather not say anything and then afterward explain that "I thought I was no longer contagious but apparently had a flare-up"; even though this is in violent disagreement with my principles.

To add some background, I was infected 2.5 years ago, and while it's been a long time since any true lesions broke out, I still have symptoms, and presumably I'm still contagious. At this point, the lesions that break out are not itchy, and they are either indistinct red spots that fade away quickly, or they look exactly like pimples -- red, volcano-shaped, white pus-filled tip, no central dimple as typical of true lesions -- and which break and fade relatively quickly. In other words I seem to be at the end of the disease's cycle. I'm otherwise healthy, but I do suffer from psoriasis, which was probably a factor in my initial infection and might explain why the infection has persisted for so long.

According to medical literature, MCV can last anything from 2 months to 5 years, with a mean of 2 years. During this time, it infects both through direct physical contact, and indirectly such as through bedding or towels. According to some sources, most people are immune because of childhood exposure, but this fact is not widely reported. Mainstream treatement involve surgery, and while there are some recently-discovered treatments that seem promising, the rates of success seem low, success stories are largely anecdotal, and nobody really seems to know much about MCV; it's not a popular disease to cure. (There also seem to be a lot of snake oil out there, eg. based on silver.)

Back when I had the full-blown lesions, I had a few surgically removed; after that, I started used topical echinacea and comfrey creams, combined with anti-acne soap, and reached the stage where I'm nearly well. I'm almost certain that the echinacea works, less so about the comfrey. I would love to hear about other possible treatments, though I suspect most people just go for curettage or cryosurgery.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Molluscum contagiosum has come up before on AskMe; that previous thread, though it talks about a different issue in re the disease, might be helpful.
posted by mcwetboy at 2:24 PM on June 1, 2005

It's basically harmless and easily treated with liquid nitrogen, so I don't really see what the big deal is - unless you're getting like hundreds or thousands of them.
posted by matildaben at 2:33 PM on June 1, 2005

If you infect your friend without telling her, then it is a big deal. I would tell her about it asap, tell her you're at the end of the cycle and it should clear up soon. Give her links to information about the virus, and tell her about your own experiences. If she gets this virus, and finds out you knew you were contagious and didn't warn her, then that would just about be the end of your relationship, I imagine.
posted by muddgirl at 3:01 PM on June 1, 2005

Well, anon, I think you already know what you have to do, and right now you're just working your way around it. It's hard. It's a complete pain. It'll be an uncomfortable conversation. Tell her sooner rather than later. Once you tell her, you'll feel great -- it'll be off your chest. She'll probably stick around, and if she doesn't, then it's her loss.

The thing is, there are diseases out there, and there are viruses and such, and some are worse than others. The little I know about MCV makes me feel like it's on the lesser end of things you can transmit to someone. Please, don't beat yourself up about it, and don't feel ashamed. It goes away eventually, it's not life-threatening, it won't make you sterile. Of course, be careful and kind with those around you, but keep it all in perspective. And tell her. I bet you it'll all be good.
posted by incessant at 4:22 PM on June 1, 2005

I'd just say something like "I've had this weird skin thing for a while, and it's getting a lot better, but it is contagious so we have to be careful so I don't give it to you." Then she can ask for more details and you guys can have a conversation about it.

I used to get warts a lot and I would just say "I'm gonna keep that one sock on because I have a wart and I don't want to spread it to you, gross, huh?" and then we would laugh because keeping one sock on is funny. Can you cover your lesions with band-aids or something to help keep the virus contained to you and only you?

Try not to be so ashamed about it. If you got the chicken pox and then accidentally gave someone else the chicken pox, well, that wouldn't be the end of the world, nor would it make you disgusting and unlovable. Try to keep your skin in perspective.
posted by bonheur at 4:28 PM on June 1, 2005

She might stay with you if you tell her before you've given it to her; she sure as hell won't if she finds out after. Tell her. If you care for her, you'll tell her.
posted by schroedinger at 2:07 AM on June 2, 2005

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