Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dermatology Online Journal

Dermatology Online Journal bannerUC Davis

Molluscum contagiosum of the eyelid: case report in a man receiving methotrexate and literature review of molluscum contagiosum in patients who are immunosuppressed secondary to methotrexate or HIV infection


Background: Molluscum contagiosum is a benign viral infection of the skin. Lesions typically present as dome-shaped, flesh-colored, umbilicated papules that range in size from 1 to 5 millimeters in diameter. They are usually asymptomatic, but can become tender or pruritic. Children and immunocompromised adults, including individuals being treated with immunosuppressive drugs, are most susceptible to infection. Single or multiple lesions most commonly appear on the extremities, face, genitals, and trunk. However, albeit rarely, molluscum contagiosum may also develop at other sites, including the eyelids.Purpose: We describe the clinical and pathologic findings of a man who developed molluscum contagiosum of the eyelid while receiving methotrexate. We also review the characteristics of other patients with molluscum contagiosum acquired either during treatment with methotrexate or associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and summarize the unusual sites of presentation for the viral lesions in these individuals.Materials and methods: The features of a man receiving methotrexate who developed molluscum contagiosum of the eyelid are presented. Using PubMed, the following terms were searched and relevant citations assessed: adalimumab, contagiosum, Enbrel, etanercept, Humira, infliximab, methotrexate, molluscum, Remicade, TNF alpha, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. In addition, the literature on methotrexate treatment and molluscum contagiosum is reviewed.Results:  Several small papules were observed on the eyelid of a 24-year-old man who had been receiving methotrexate and adalimumab (Humira) for the treatment of Crohn disease. The lesions were removed by shave biopsy. Microscopic examination revealed epidermal hyperplasia composed of keratinocytes filled with large eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusions. Based on correlation of the clinical presentation and histopathologic findings, a diagnosis of molluscum contagiosum was established. The patient applied mupirocin 2% ointment to the biopsy sites, which subsequently healed without complication or recurrence.Conclusion: Molluscum contagiosum is a benign viral papular eruption that frequently affects children and immunocompromised adults. Patients treated with immunosuppressive agents, such as methotrexate, have a heightened risk of developing molluscum contagiosum lesions. It remains to be determined whether adjunct therapy with a tumor necrosis factor alpha inhibitor increasesthe risk of this viral infection. Diagnosis can usually be established by clinical presentation, although a biopsy is sometimesrequired to exclude other conditions. Molluscum contagiosum is generally self-limiting and often resolves spontaneously within18 months. However, topical (cantharidin) or locally destructive (curettage, cryotherapy, and/or laser) therapy may be indic tedfor patients who are concerned about persistent lesions and for children who are particularly susceptible to autoinoculation.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View