This page was reviewed or revised on Thursday, June 9, 2016 10:50 AM
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin disease caused by a virus. The disease is generally mild and should not be a reason for concern or worry.
The infection causes small white, pink, or fleshcoloured bumps or growths with a dimple or pit in the centre. These bumps are usually found on the trunk, lower abdomen, pubic area, genitals or inner thighs. They may be confused with genital warts.
They may become sore, red, and swollen but are usually painless. The bumps normally disappear in 6-12 months without treatment, and without leaving scars.
The infection can be passed from person to person by direct contact with skin bumps or by touching objects that have the virus on them, like towels, clothing or toys. People with the skin infection can spread the disease to other areas of their own body by touching or scratching the bumps and then touching another part of the body.
It can also be spread by sexual contact.
The bumps can form from 7 days to 6 months after contact with an infected person. They can grow slowly for weeks or months, or they may remain unchanged for years.
It can be diagnosed by a visual exam by a doctor, or the doctor may test material from the centre core of the bump and examine it under a microscope.
In most cases, the bumps disappear on their own, and no treatment is needed. Sometimes treatment, such as burning or freezing, is necessary if bumps are numerous or annoying.
There is no need to stop children with molluscum contagiosum from attending child care or school. Bumps that are not covered by clothing should be covered with a bandage. Children with bumps in the underwear or diaper area, and who require assistance when toileting, should cover the bumps if possible.