Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection, most common in children, sexually active people, and those with compromised immune systems. Molluscum contagiosum is spread by scratching and skin contact with the bumps, or by touching something a bump has touched, such as a shared towel. The virus spreads on the infected person’s body via scratching.
Symptoms of molluscum contagiosum
- Small, smooth, round pearly bumps, with a hard dimple in the centre that don’t grow bigger
- Pink, white, or flesh-coloured
- Appear within 2-6 weeks of coming into contact with the virus
- May appear around the face, neck, chest, pubic area, stomach or inner thighs, but never on the palms or soles
- One bump or 50 bumps, but typically appear in small groups
- Not painful or itchy, but can be red and swollen
- Uncomfortable or itchy if they get infected
- Red and sore as they heal
- Bumps resolve themselves and do not leave scars
- Found more in people with asthma and eczema
Treatment for molluscum contagiosum
Molluscum contagiosum often resolves on its own, but it can take months or even years. Treatment means a shorter duration, but it can’t remove them quickly. Anyone being treated must take care to avoiding infecting others including through sexual activity. Treatment can cause side-effects such as pain, irritation to the bumps, and can result in scarring.
Treatments include cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen), laser removal, cutting the bumps off, or a prescription cream applied topically. Keep the bumps clean and covered where possible, and avoid spreading occasions like swimming, contact sports, or sharing objects. Don’t pick or scratch, and avoid sexual contact.