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DERMATOLOGY :: Viral Skin Infections

Molluscum Contagiosum

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral disease of the skin that causes small pink or skin-colored bumps on your child's skin. It is not harmful and usually does not have any other symptoms. The virus is inside the bumps and is mildly contagious. These bumps usually clear over an extended period of time.

What causes molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus called the poxvirus. It is most common in children and adolescents, although it can affect adults.

What are the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum?

The bumps are small and are usually pink or skin-colored. Eventually, the bumps tend to have a small sunken center. The number of lesions a child has is usually between two to 20. The lesions usually occur in groups or clusters. They are not harmful, but may cause some cosmetic concern for the child if they appear on the face or other visible areas.

How is molluscum contagiosum diagnosed?

Molluscum contagiosum is usually diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination of the child. The lesions are unique and usually are diagnosed on physical examination. Additional tests are not routinely ordered.

Treatment for molluscum contagiosum:

Specific treatment for molluscum contagiosum will be determined by your child's physician based on:

  • your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the condition
  • your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference

In most cases, the lesions will heal without treatment over a period of six to nine months. Additional treatment options may include:

  • removal of the lesions
  • use of topical medications (to speed the resolution of the lesions)

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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.
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