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Molluscum contagiosum - commonly known as molluscum - is a viral skin infection that causes painless, skin-colored bumps to appear on the skin. These bumps - or papules - have a small indentation in the center.
- Raised, round, and skin-colored
- Small (2 to 5 cm in diameter)
- Dimpling, or an indentation, in the center of the papule
- Mild itching, but generally painless
- May become red and inflamed
- Can be removed through itching or scratching
- Start off as firm, but become softer overtime
- A white core of a waxy substance
These bumps usually appear on the face, neck, hands, armpits, and arms in children. If adults contract the infection through sexual contact, papules commonly appear in the groin area.
Molluscum infections most commonly affect young children. It can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, sharing towels or clothing, and contact with surfaces and objects that have been contaminated by the virus. Scratching or itching the papules can not only spread the infection to other parts of the body, but the virus can then live on fingers and under nails - which may contaminate surfaces and objects that are touched by an infected individual.
Adults with weakened immune systems are at risk of contracting the infection in the same way children are. Most adults with healthy immune systems, however, are unlikely to become infected except through sexual contact. Molluscum transmitted through sexual activity is known as a sexually transmitted infection.
Molluscum is a chronic condition. If left untreated, the small bumps caused by the infection may appear on the skin for several months to a year. If you or your child is experiencing small bumps similar to those listed above, talk to your doctor. Early treatment of molluscum can help prevent spreading the infection to other parts of the body or other people.
Below is a list of common treatment options for molluscum. During your appointment, discuss these with your doctor to determine the right treatment plan for you.