Molluscum Contagiosum

Also known as: molluscum.

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a mild non-malignant (benign) viral infection of the skin, spread by direct person-to-person contact or by contact with contaminated objects. The infection results in smooth, small, raised white, pink or flesh-colored growths (mollusca) that may be found anywhere on the body, but not usually on the hands or soles of the feet.

What causes molluscum contagiosum?

The virus that causes molluscum contagiosum is passed from an infected person to another through skin-to-skin contact or by contact with contaminated objects including clothing, towels, pool equipment, or other warm wet environments. Older persons can spread the virus by sexual contact.

What are the sign/symptoms of molluscum contagiosum?

The small, round pearly flesh or other-colored 2-5 millimeter in diameter bumps, singly or in groups, are the primary sign of molluscum contagiosum. There are usually around 10 to 20 of them and may be itchy, sore, red and/or swollen. There may be more bumps in children with weakened immune systems.

Typically they disappear without scarring over time (6 months to 1 year or sometimes multiple years).

What are molluscum contagiosum care options?

Generally the disease is self-limiting and in most healthy children require no treatment. For bumps on or near the penis, vulva, vagina or anus, a variety of treatments including freezing, scrapping, laser therapy or topical or oral therapy may be recommended.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: July 26, 2021 11:02 AM

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