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Molluscum Contagiosum in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.


Molluscum contagiosum

is a skin infection. It is caused by a pox virus. Molluscum contagiosum is most common in children 1 to 10 years of age. It is more common among children who have trouble fighting infections. This includes children with a weak immune system.

How molluscum contagiosum is spread:

Molluscum contagiosum is contagious, which means it can be easily spread to others. The infection can be spread when a person touches the skin of an infected person. It can also be spread on items that an infected person has used, such as clothes or washcloths. Your child may spread the infection to other parts of his or her body. This can happen after your child touches an infected area and then touches somewhere else on his or her body.

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

Your child may not have symptoms for weeks to months after the virus has entered his or her body. Your child will have small, raised bumps on his or her skin. The bumps are firm, smooth, and look like warts. They may be white or pink. Each bump may have a small indent in the center. A cheese-like white fluid may drain from the bumps. Bumps may appear on your child's face, arms, legs, abdomen, or chest. They may become itchy, sore, or swollen.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child's bumps become swollen, red, painful, or drain pus.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Treatment for molluscum contagiosum

may include medicine to treat the skin infection and prevent it from spreading. Medicine may be given as a pill, cream, or a gel. Your child may need to have the bumps removed by a laser, freezing them (cryotherapy), or scraping them off.

Prevent the spread of molluscum contagiosum:

  • Wash your hands and your child's hands often. Always wash your hands and your child's hands after touching the infected area. Have your child wash his or her hands after he or she uses the bathroom. If no water is available, your child can use germ-killing hand lotion or gel. Alcohol-based hand lotion or gel works best.
  • Do not let your child share personal items with others. Do not let your child share items that have come in contact with bumps or sores. Examples are toys, clothing, bedding, towels, and washcloths. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to clean or wash these items.
  • Do not let your child have close contact with others. Do not let your child take a bath with another child or adult. Do not let your child play contact sports, such as wrestling or football. Have your child sleep in his or her own bed until the bumps are gone. It is okay for your child to go to school or daycare if the bumps are covered.
  • Keep your child's bumps covered. Cover your child's bumps with a bandage as directed. Have your child wear clothing that covers the bandages. Cover your child's bumps with a watertight bandage before he or she swims in a pool. Your child can sleep with the bumps uncovered.
  • Do not let your child scratch or pick the bumps. This may spread the bumps to other parts of your child's body. It may also increase the risk of spreading the bumps to others.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

For more information:

  • American Academy of Dermatology
    P.O. Box 4014
    Schaumburg , IL 60168
    Phone: 1- 847 - 330-0230
    Phone: 1- 866 - 503-7546
    Web Address:

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.