Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a specific virus. The virus can be spread from:
Factors that may increase your risk of getting molluscum contagiosum include:
Molluscum contagiosum usually affects the face, trunk, arms, and legs of children. The genitals, abdomen, and inner thighs are common sites in adults.
Symptoms may include:
Symptoms may last from several weeks to several years.
Diagnosis is usually made based on the lesion appearance. Sometimes, a biopsy will be taken to rule out other conditions. A biopsy is the removal of a small sample of the area.
Molluscum contagiosum usually goes away on its own within 6 months to 2 years without any treatment. For people with HIV infection, the lesions usually persist and spread indefinitely. Your doctor may recommend the removal of some lesions to prevent the spread of the infection or to avoid infecting others.
Lesion may be removed by one of the following:
American Academy of Dermatology
American Social Health Association
Canadian Dermatology Association
Public Health Agency of Canada
Hanson D. Diven DG. Molluscum contagiosum. Dermatology Online J. 2003;9(2):2. Accessed May 10, 2016.
Molluscum contagiosum. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/molluscum-contagiosum. Accessed May 10, 2016.
Molluscum contagiosum. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 28, 2015. .Accessed May 10, 2016.
Molluscum contagiosum. American Social Health Association website. Available at: http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/molluscum-contagiosum/. Accessed May 10, 2016.
Dohil MA, Lin P, et al. The epidemiology of molluscum contagiosum in children. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006;54(1):47-54.
Stulberg DL, Hutchinson AG. Molluscum contagiosum and warts. Am Fam Physician. 2003;67(6):1233-1240.
Theos AU, Cummins R, et al. Effectiveness of imiquimod cream 5% for treating childhood molluscum contagiosum in a double-blind, randomized pilot trial. Cutis. 2004;74(2):134-138,141-142.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.