Molluscum Contagiosum



The molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) causes the infection. MCV spreads from contact with an infected person. This can happen through:

  • Skin to skin contact
  • Sex
  • Sharing items such as a towel or yoga or wrestling mat

The infection can also spread from one part of the body to another. This happens mainly with hands.

Risk Factors

The risk of molluscum contagiosum is higher in people who have:

  • Other skin problems, such as atopic dermatitis
  • Problems with the immune system, such as:
    • HIV infection
    • Taking medicine that suppresses the immune system
    • Cancer
  • Recently been swimming, especially in a public pool or with shared towel use



Bumps generally appear on the face, trunk, arms, and legs of children. The groin, belly, and inner thighs are common places on adults.

Molluscum contagiosum may cause:

  • Small, flesh colored, dome shaped bumps with dimpling in the middle
  • Itching
  • Soreness
  • Clear, pearly, or flesh colored bumps that may turn gray and drain
  • A white or waxy substance in the middle of bump
  • Many bumps clustered together

These problems may last from many weeks to many years.

Molluscum Contagiosum
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Molluscum contagiosum can be diagnosed based on the way the bumps look. A sample of the bump may be taken for testing if the diagnosis is not clear.



Most people do not need treatment. The bumps will go away on their own in 6 to 9 months.

In some people, the bumps do not go away and may also spread. The bumps may be removed to lower the risk of the bumps spreading on the body or to others.

The bumps may be removed by:

  • Cryotherapy—extreme cold removes the bumps
  • Curettage—cutting out the bumps
  • Laser surgery—use of steady or pulsed high intensity light
  • Placing chemicals on the skin to remove the bump


To lower the risk of molluscum contagiosum:

  • Avoid skin to skin contact with people who have skin sores.
  • Do not share personal items, such a towels.
  • Clean frequently used surfaces and objects.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Do not have sex with someone who has the infection. Condoms do not offer full protection.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.