Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection that causes small pearly or flesh-colored bumps. The bumps may be clear, and the center often is indented. The infection is caused by a virus. The virus is easily spread but is not harmful. The bumps are round with a dimple in the center. They are a little smaller in size than the eraser on the end of a pencil. The bumps don’t cause pain.
They may appear alone or in groups. They most often appear on the trunk, face, eyelids, or genital area. The bumps may become inflamed and turn red as your body fights the virus. It can also happen if the virus gets on an object that is touched by other people. This includes sexual contact or touching the bumps and then touching the skin. Touching an object that has the virus on it, such as a towel, also can spread the infection. The virus can spread from one part of the body to another.
Or it can spread to other people, such as among children at day care or school. The infection is contagious until the bumps are gone. Try not to scratch. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The virus may spread and cause new lesions to form as older ones heal, extending the time the patient must deal with the symptoms. If the bumps are on your face, don’t shave. If the bumps are in your genital area, avoid sexual contact.
How is it diagnosed? If the bumps are on your face, don’t shave. If you have bumps in your genital area, your doctor may check for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as genital herpes. In most cases, molluscum contagiosum doesn’t need to be treated. The bumps usually go away on their own in 6 to 9 months. But in some cases, they may last much longer—sometimes even for years. Freezing the bumps, called cryotherapy or cryosurgery.
Scraping off the bumps, called curettage. Putting a chemical on the bumps, like cantharidin or potassium hydrochloride. Using medicines (liquids or creams), such as those used to treat warts. Nitrogen is normally a gas, at room temperature. But if your child needs treatment, talk to your child’s doctor about how to prevent pain and scarring. Molluscum contagiosum is most common in children, especially those younger than age 12. In teens and young adults, it usually is a sexually transmitted infection.
But wrestlers, swimmers, gymnasts, massage therapists, and people who use steam rooms and saunas also can get it.