Conditions & Diseases

Molluscum Contagiosum

What is it? 

Molluscum contagiosum is a fairly common viral infection of the skin, somewhat similar to warts.  The growths appear as small, firm, pink bumps with a central indentation. 

 Who gets molluscum? 

The condition is most common in children, although young adults also get it.  The presence of severely dry skin or eczema makes a person much more susceptible. Micro-cracks in the skin allow the virus to spread.

How is it transmitted?

Skin-to-skin contact is the usual mode of transmission.  Children often spread the virus over their skin by scratching. 
Contaminated clothing is probably not an important source of spread. 

Is it dangerous?  

No.  If irritated, the spots can become infected, but this is unusual.

How is it treated?

There is no predictably effective method of treatment.  Scraping the growths off works the best, but it hurts.  This may not be feasible if large numbers are present.  Other in-office treatments include wart medications such as application of acids and liquid nitrogen (freezing).  Prescription creams, gels, or lotions may also be used as home therapy.  Usually, several treatment sessions are necessary. Treating of dry or irritated skin is very helpful in preventing further spread of the growths. 

Learn more about Molluscum Contagiosum from the American Academy of Dermatology.