Molluscum contagiosum is a common condition where small warty bumps (mollusca) appear on the skin. It is caused by a member of the pox virus family and it can be passed on by skin contact or from contaminated towels, flannels, soft toys, etc.
It is not serious and usually clears within 12-18 months without any treatment.

What does molluscum contagiosum look like?
The skin develops small lumps which are pearly-white or slightly pink. Each lump (molluscum) looks like a small swelling on the skin and is round, firm, and about 1-5 mm across. A tiny dimple often develops on the top of each molluscum. If you squeeze a molluscum, a white cheesy fluid comes out. In most cases fewer than 20 mollusca develop. They tend to occur in clusters and can appear on any part of the body but rarely occur on the palms or soles.

What causes molluscum contagiosum?
It is caused by a virus which can be passed on by skin-to-skin contact. You can also be infected by touching things that have been contaminated by the virus. For example, by sharing towels, flannels or soft toys that have been used by someone who has molluscum contagiosum. Once one area of skin is affected the rash can spread to other areas of your skin. However, most people are immune to this virus.

Who gets molluscum contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum can affect anyone of any age. It is most common in children, and mostly happens in children aged 1-4. However, it can also affect adults.

How does molluscum contagiosum develop?
The small lumps on the skin (the mollusca) usually develop 2-7 weeks after you become infected with the virus. Typically, each molluscum lasts about 6-12 weeks, crusts over, and then goes. However, new ones tend to appear as old ones are going, as the virus spreads to other areas of skin. Therefore, crops of mollusca may appear to come and go for several months.

It commonly takes 12-18 months before the last of the mollusca goes completely. Occasionally, the condition lasts longer than two years – sometimes as long as five years.

Is molluscum contagiosum serious?
In a word no but if you develop large numbers of Mollusca or they are larger in size than usual then it would be worth visiting your G.P.

Can infection with molluscum contagiosum be prevented?
The chance of passing on the molluscum contagiosum virus to others is small and it is not serious anyway. Therefore, there is no need to keep children with molluscum contagiosum off school or away from swimming pools, etc.

What is the treatment for molluscum contagiosum?
It is usually best not to treat, particularly in children. This is because most treatment options are painful and increase the risk of scarring. It will NOT limit your child’s ability to do sport/swimming etc.