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Molluscum Contagiosum

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What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection caused by a virus that is easily spread but not harmful. If you’re suffering from molluscum contagiosum, you probably have small pearly or flesh colored bumps that are round with a dimple in the center and most often appear on the body, face, eyelids or genitals. 

They’re not painful, but can become inflamed, turning red, as your body attempts to fight the virus.


It’s most commonly spread through skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact, though touching an object that has the virus can also cause it to spread. It is contagious until the bumps are gone, which can take up to 6 months.


It is most common in children, especially those younger than 12. 


Diagnosing molluscum contagiosum

To diagnose molluscum contagiosum, the doctors at the Dermatological Center for Skin Health and Saint John’s Health Center begin with a simple physical exam. We may even take a sample of the bumps to test in our pathology lab. 

Treating molluscum contagiosum

Many people may not need treatment for molluscum contagiosum as the bumps may go away on their own. However, treatment choices may include:

  • Freezing the bumps.

  • Scraping off the bumps, called curettage.

  • Putting a chemical on the bumps, such as cantharidin or potassium hydrochloride.

  • Using liquids or creams, such as those used to treat warts.

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