The molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) causes the infection. MCV spreads from contact with someone who has it. This can happen through:
- Touching skin to skin
- Having sex
- Sharing items such as a towel, or yoga or wrestling mat
It can also spread from one part of your body to another. This happens mainly with your hand.
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 middle
- Clear, pearly, or flesh-colored bumps that may turn gray and drain
- White or waxy substance in the middle of bump
- Many bumps clustered together
These problems may last from many weeks to many years.
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In most cases, molluscum contagiosum doesn’t need care. It will go away on its own within 6 to 9 months.
In others, the bumps may linger or spread. This can be more of a problem for people with HIV. Your doctor may remove the bumps. This will help lower the chances of spreading it on you or to other people.
Procedures may involve:
- Cryotherapy—extreme cold removes the bumps
- Curettage—cutting out the bumps
- Laser surgery—use of steady or pulsed high intensity light
- Placing chemicals on your skin to remove the bump
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.
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American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org
American Sexual Health Association http://www.ashasexualhealth.org
Canadian Dermatology Association https://www.dermatology.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada https://www.canada.ca
Molluscum. American Sexual Health Association website. Available at: http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/molluscum-contagiosum. Accessed June 20, 2018.
Molluscum contagiosum. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/molluscum-contagiosum. Accessed June 20, 2018.
Molluscum contagiosum. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116448/Molluscum-contagiosum . Updated August 20, 2015. Accessed June 20, 2018.
Molluscum contagiosum. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/viral-skin-diseases/molluscum-contagiosum. Updated October 2016. Accessed June 20, 2018.