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Pronounced: mo-lus-kum kon-ta-je-o-sum
by Patricia Kellicker, BSN
Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the skin.
Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a specific virus. The virus can be spread from:
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that may increase your risk of getting molluscum contagiosum include:
Molluscum contagiosum usually affects the face, trunk, arms, and legs of children. The genitals, abdomen, and inner thighs are common sites in adults.
Symptoms may include:
Symptoms may last from several weeks to several years.
Diagnosis is usually made based on the lesion appearance. Sometimes, a biopsy will be taken to rule out other conditions. A biopsy is the removal of a small sample of the area.
Molluscum contagiosum usually goes away on its own within 6 months to 2 years without any treatment. For people with HIV infection, the lesions usually persist and spread indefinitely. Your doctor may recommend the removal of some lesions to prevent the spread of the infection or to avoid infecting others.
Lesion may be removed by one of the following:
To reduce your chances of getting molluscum contagiosum, avoid any contact with an infected person.
If you are contagious, avoid any personal contact with others, contact sports, or sharing personal items.
American Academy of Dermatology
American Social Health Association
Canadian Dermatology Association
Public Health Agency of Canada
Hanson D. Diven DG. Molluscum contagiosum. Dermatology Online J. 2003;9(2):2. Accessed May 10, 2016.
Molluscum contagiosum. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/molluscum-contagiosum. Accessed May 10, 2016.
Molluscum contagiosum. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated August 20, 2015. Accessed May 10, 2016.
Molluscum contagiosum. American Social Health Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed May 10, 2016.
Dohil MA, Lin P, et al. The epidemiology of molluscum contagiosum in children. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006;54(1):47-54.
Stulberg DL, Hutchinson AG. Molluscum contagiosum and warts. Am Fam Physician. 2003;67(6):1233-1240.
Theos AU, Cummins R, et al. Effectiveness of imiquimod cream 5% for treating childhood molluscum contagiosum in a double-blind, randomized pilot trial. Cutis. 2004;74(2):134-138,141-142.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 5/22/2014
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