Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus that affects the top layers of the skin. It is found throughout the world but it is more common in places with warm, humid climates.
What is Molluscum contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection that causes small skin-coloured bumps. It can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, touching objects with the virus, or through sexual contact.
The symptoms may appear within two weeks after someone catches the virus but may take as long as six months.
At first, an infected person will have tiny, painless bumps on the skin. After many weeks, the bumps grow to be firm, pinkish-white, raised and doughnut-shaped.
This infection is most common in children under ten, but anyone can catch it. It can be severe in people with an immune system problem. In children, the bumps often appear on the face, body, legs and arms. The infection can be spread to the genital area by scratching. In adults, the bumps can be found anywhere on the body.
How Molluscum contagiosum is spread
Molluscum contagiosum is spread by skin-to-skin contact or touching objects with the virus, such as towels.
It also spreads when someone scratches the bumps and then scratches another body part. Or it can spread to other people, such as among children at daycare or school. The infection is contagious until the bumps are gone.
A doctor can examine the skin to find out if a child has Molluscum contagiosum. The bumps usually go away without treatment in two to six months. In some cases, they may last for years. A doctor may prescribe medicine to stop the bumps from spreading.
What to do at home
- If another child has Molluscum contagiosum, watch your child for signs of Molluscum contagiosum.
- Call your doctor if you think your child has Molluscum contagiosum.
- Ensure everyone in the house washes his or her hands carefully with soap and water after touching infected skin.
- Do not share facecloths or towels.
- Tell your child not to scratch the bumps and, if possible, use bandages to cover them up.
- Watch for new bumps or bumps that seem to be spreading or not getting any better.
- Watch the bumps for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, pus-like drainage or increased pain.