Pediatric Patients Only
The Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at MassGeneral Hospital for Children provides outstanding primary care and consultative care to adolescents and young adults.
To schedule an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist, please call: 617-643-1201
For other pediatric specialties, please call: 888-644-3248.
What is molluscum contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is a viral disease of the skin that causes small pink or skin-colored bumps on the skin. It is not harmful and usually does not have any other symptoms. The virus is inside the bumps and is mildly contagious. These bumps usually clear over an extended period of time.
What causes molluscum contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus called the poxvirus. It is most common in children and adolescents, although it can affect adults. The virus usually is spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. People with weakened immune systems, young children, and people living in warm, humid climates are more susceptible to molluscum contagiosum.
What are the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum?
The bumps are small and are usually pink or skin-colored. Eventually, the bumps tend to develop a small sunken center. The lesions can occur alone or in groups or clusters. They are not harmful, but may cause some cosmetic concern for the individual if they appear on the face or other visible areas.
How is molluscum contagiosum diagnosed?
Molluscum contagiosum is usually diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination. The lesions are unique and are usually diagnosed on physical examination. Additional tests are not routinely ordered.
Treatment for molluscum contagiosum
Specific treatment for molluscum contagiosum will be determined by your doctor based on:
Your age, overall health, and medical history
Extent of the condition
Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the condition
Your opinion or preference
In most cases, the lesions will heal without treatment over a period of six to 12 months. The virus can last up to four years and may leave scars. The best way to avoid this disease is by following good hygiene habits. For example, do not pick or scratch your skin (or someone else's). Always practice good handwashing hygiene. Additional treatment options may include:
Removal of the lesions, by using cryotherapy (freezing them off) or lasers
Use of topical medications (to speed resolution of the lesions)