Molluscum Contagiosum

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What is Molluscum Contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral disease of the skin that causes small pink or skin-colored bumps on the skin. It is not harmful and usually does not have any other symptoms. The virus is inside the bumps and is mildly contagious. These bumps usually clear over an extended period of time.

What Causes Molluscum Contagiosum?

A virus called the poxvirus causes molluscum contagiosum. It is most common in children and adolescents, although it can affect adults. People with weakened immune systems, young children and people living in warm, humid climates are more susceptible to molluscum contagiosum.

Physical contact spreads the virus from person to person, including skin-to-skin contact and sharing of towels or clothing. Scratching at the bumps will spread the virus. The rash does not appear for several months after the exposure. Small children in contact with one another can spread the virus easily. In adults, the virus can be transmitted through sexual contact.

Signs and Symptoms of Molluscum Contagiosum

Common symptoms of molluscum contagiousum include:

  • Small pink or skin-colored bumps
  • Size of 2 millimeters or less in diameter
  • White core or small sunken center
  • Single bump or groups or clusters

Treatment for Molluscum Contagiosum

Specific treatment for molluscum contagiosum will be determined by your physician based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the condition
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the condition
  • Your opinion or preference

In most cases, the lesions will heal without treatment over 6 to 12 months. The virus can last up to 4 years and may leave scars. The best way to avoid this disease is by following good hygiene habits. For example, do not pick or scratch your skin (or someone else's). Always practice good handwashing hygiene. Additional treatment options may include:

  • Removal of the lesions using cryosurgery (freezing with liquid nitrogen) or lasers
  • Use of topical (skin-based) medications to speed resolution of the lesions

Contact Us

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (310) 825-6911.