What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a skin disease that is caused by a virus and is characterized by flesh-colored, white or pink bumps with a depression in the center. These bumps are often the only sign of molluscum contagiosum. Left untreated, the bumps may persist for months to years but typically resolve on their own with time.

About 10 to 20 bumps appear at a time and the bumps can be as large as five millimeters in diameter. Usually, the bumps are painless but may become red, itchy, sore or swollen. Scratching or picking at the bumps will cause the disease to spread to other parts of the body. Molluscum contagiosum is seen most often in children aged one to 10, but adults can also get the disease. The virus can also be spread through sexual contact, so molluscum contagiosum can be a form of sexually transmitted disease (Source: CDC).

Molluscum contagiosum is spread by either touching an object infected with the virus, such as a towel, clothing or toy, or through direct skin contact with someone who has the virus. Molluscum contagiosum will go away without treatment, but treatment can prevent the disease from spreading further on your body or to other people. If you have a weakened immune system, treatment is highly recommended.

Treatment for molluscum contagiosum may include topical therapy or surgery. New bumps may appear as long as six months after treatment, although treated molluscum contagiosum generally clears within two to four months. It is possible to become reinfected after the bumps have cleared; one infection does not prevent the chance of a future infection.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for molluscum contagiosum and its symptoms become more severe or are persistent.


What are the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is characterized by small bumps, either flesh-colored, pink or white, that have a dimple or pit in the center. Only your health care provider can diagnose molluscum contagiosum. If you experience an unusual skin bump, blister, rash or irritation that does not go away in a few days, see your health care provider.... Read more about molluscum contagiosumsymptoms


What causes molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is skin disease caused by a virus. It occurs most often in children. However, adults and adolescents can also experience molluscum contagiosum. This skin disease can recur, particularly if left untreated.... Read more about molluscum contagiosumcauses


How is molluscum contagiosum treated?

Treatment for molluscum contagiosum may include surgery. The surgical options include cryosurgery, or the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the bumps, and curettage, or scraping the bumps off the skin. Laser surgery will burn the bumps off the skin. Nonsurgical topical therapy involves using acids or blistering solutions on the bumps.... Read more about molluscum contagiosumtreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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