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Molluscum contagiosum is a highly contagious and common viral infection of the skin, often seen in childhood, mainly affecting infants and children under the age of 10 years. Adolescents and adults are less often infected. Lesions present as clusters of small dome-shaped papules, and can be white, pink, or tan. They often have a waxy or shiny look and a small central pit. There may be a few or hundreds of papules on one individual. They tend to arise in warm moist places, such as the armpit, behind the knee, groin, or genital skin. They do not occur or palms or soles. When mollusca are auto-inoculated by scratching, the papules often form a row.

There are several ways it can spread:

  • Direct skin-to-skin contact
  • Indirect contact via shared towels or other contaminated items
  • Auto-inoculation into another site by scratching or shaving
  • Sexual transmission in adults

Transmission of mollusca appears to be more likely in wet conditions, such as when children bathe or swim together. In addition, the virus can be transferred via shared sports equipment, such as baseball gloves, wrestling/gymnastics mats, and football helmets.

To reduce spread:

  • Keep hands clean
  • Avoid scratching or shaving
  • Cover all visible lesions with clothing or watertight bandages
  • Dispose of used bandages
  • Do not share baths, towels, clothing or other personal or potentially contaminated effects
  • Adults should practice safe sex or abstinence


Treatment of molluscum contagiosum involves local destruction of virus-infected cells.

Treatment options include:

  • Cryotherapy (application of liquid nitrogen to freeze each bump)
  • Over-the-counter wart treatments containing salicylic acid to induce irritation
  • Cantharidine solution (application of a topical solution to induce blister formation)
  • Imiquimod cream (a topical cream that works by boosting the immune response to virus-infected cells)

In immune-competent hosts, molluscum contagiosum is relatively harmless, and many cases do not require treatment. Skin lesions may persist for up to 2 years or more, however, half of cases clear by 12 months, and two-thirds by 18 months. Contact with another infected individual later on can lead to a new crop of mollusca.

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Sheth Dermatology& Mohs Surgery Center

9131 West 151st Street
Orland Park, IL 60462

Office Hours

  • Monday 10AM – 7PM
  • Tuesday 10AM – 4PM
  • Wednesday 8AM – 5PM
  • Thursday 8AM – 4PM
  • Friday 9AM – 1PM
  • Saturday Closed
  • Sunday Closed

(708) 323 DERM (3376)

(708) 390-0842

Sheth Dermatology& MedSpa

124 Ogden Avenue
Downers Grove, IL, 60515

Office Hours

  • Monday Closed
  • Tuesday 9AM – 5PM
  • Wednesday 9AM – 5PM
  • Thursday 9AM – 5PM
  • Friday 9AM – 3PM
  • Saturday 9AM - 3PM
  • Sunday Closed

(630) 521-DERM (3376)

(630) 981-2098