Are you wondering if you have folliculitis or molluscum contagiosum? The two conditions sometimes look similar and both can cause itching, but they have different causes, respond to different treatments, and one (molluscum contagiosum) is highly contagious while the other is not. For these reasons, it’s important to determine which one you actually have. We’ll tell you about the similarities and differences. If you’re still not sure whether you have molluscum contagiosum or folliculitis, though, we recommend seeing your doctor or a dermatologist for a diagnosis.
Is it Folliculitis or Molluscum Contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the skin. Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles, usually caused by either a bacterium or a fungus. Here are some of the similarities as well as differences in the two conditions.
Appearance – Molluscum contagiosum causes small blister-like bumps that range in size from about the size of a pinhead to the size of a pencil eraser. The bumps are flesh-colored and are often described as “pearl-like.” If you’ve been scratching the affected area, the skin surrounding the bumps may look red and inflamed. Folliculitis, on the other hand, looks like tiny red pimples. The pimples may or may not have white “heads.” Sometimes, if the infection is particularly severe, boils develop, which look blister-like and more closely resemble molluscum contagiosum. The skin surrounding the pimples or boils can also look red and inflamed. Take a look at the pictures below to see the differences:
Most common location – Molluscum contagiosum is most often found on the face, neck, hands, and arms of children and on the bellies, thighs, buttocks, and genitals of adults. It can appear anywhere on the body, however. Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles so it is most often found in hairy areas, such as the head, beard area of the face in men, and genital area of adults. It can be found in other areas as well, though.
Other symptoms – Both folliculitis and molluscum cause itching. Folliculitis is often tender or sore, as well, but molluscum contagiosum usually is not (unless you’ve been scratching the area a lot).
Who is most susceptible – Anyone can get molluscum contagiosum and folliculitis. Molluscum contagiosum is most common in children ages 10 and under, however. Folliculitis is more common in adults. Both are more likely to occur in people with impaired immune systems.
How it is spread – Molluscum contagiosum is highly contagious. You can get it through direct contact with someone that has it, including sexual contact if someone has it on his or her genitals, or through indirect contact, such using towels, washcloths, clothing, or other personal items used by someone that has it. Folliculitis is not contagious, however. It’s often caused by wearing restrictive clothing or by improper shaving techniques.
Treatment options – Molluscum contagiosum is sometimes treated with topical medications or oral antiviral drugs. Other times, it’s treated with minor surgical procedures to remove the bumps or freeze them off. Sometimes laser therapy is used. Folliculitis is usually treated with antibiotic ointment if it’s caused by a bacterial infection or with an antifungal cream or shampoo if it’s caused by a fungal infection. Occasionally, oral antibiotics are prescribed for severe bacterial infections. If folliculitis has resulted in a boil, it might need to be lanced and drained.
Of course, folliculitis or molluscum contagiosum are not the only conditions that look similar. People sometimes mistake boils, warts, and other skin conditions for these two things. If you’re not sure what you’re dealing with, it’s best to see your doctor for a diagnosis.
Our Preferred Treatment Option for Molluscum Contagiosum
Our preferred treatment for molluscum contagiosum is a natural remedy called Naturasil. It’s made from natural plant extracts with antiviral properties, like cedar leaf oil and tea tree oil. It’s available without a prescription, it’s affordable, easy to use, and works quickly to treat molluscum contagiosum. For more information, just follow this link to the Naturasil Website.