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Molluscum Contagiosum

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection. It is caused by a pox virus. This disease is more common among people who have trouble fighting infections. This includes people with a weak immune system.

How is molluscum contagiosum spread?

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

What are the signs and symptoms of molluscum contagiosum?

You may not have symptoms for weeks to months after the virus has entered your body. You will see small, raised bumps on your skin. The bumps are firm, smooth, and look like warts. They may be white or pink. Each bump may have an indent in the center. The bumps may drain a cheese-like white fluid. You may see bumps on your face, eyelids, inner thighs, abdomen, or genitals. The bumps may become itchy, sore, or swollen.

How is molluscum contagiosum diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your skin. Your provider may take a scraping from one of the bumps and look at it under a microscope. You may need a blood test to check for sexually transmitted infections (STI). This test may be done if you have bumps on your genitals.

How is molluscum contagiosum treated?

Molluscum contagiosum may go away without treatment. It may take several months to years for the infection to go away. You may need a pill, cream, or gel to help the bumps go away. People with a weakened immune system may also need medicine to help their body fight the infection. You may need the bumps removed by a laser, scraping them, or freezing them (cryotherapy). A medicine called liquid nitrogen may be used to freeze the bumps.

Treatment options

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

What should I do to prevent the spread of molluscum contagiosum?

  • Wash your hands. Always wash your hands after touching the infected area. Also wash your hands after you use the bathroom. If no water is available, use germ-killing hand lotion or gel to clean your hands. Alcohol-based hand lotion or gel works best.
  • Do not share personal items with others. Do not share items that have come in contact with bumps or sores. Examples are clothing, bedding, towels, and washcloths. Ask your healthcare provider how to clean or wash these items.
  • Do not have close contact with others. Do not play contact sports, such as wrestling or football. Do not have sex until the bumps are all gone. Sleep in your own bed until the bumps are gone. You can return to work or school if you keep your bumps covered.
  • Keep your bumps covered. Cover the bumps with a bandage as directed. Wear clothing that covers the bandage. Cover your bumps with a watertight bandage before you swim in a pool or hot tub. You can uncover your bumps before you go to bed.
  • Do not scratch, pick, or shave infected areas. This may spread the bumps to other parts of your body. It may also increase the risk of spreading the bumps to others.

Where can I find 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:

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

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

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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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