Molluscum Contagiosum (MC)

Molluscum Contagiosum (pronounced: mole us come – cun tay jee oh some) is a viral skin infection that causes small painless pearl shaped bumps on the skin that are white, pink, or flesh colored, and may have small indents on the top. Hundreds of thousands of people get diagnosed with it every year. In healthy people, molluscum contagiosum (MC) is relatively harmless, only affecting the epithelial (outer) layer of the skin rather than circulating through the body.

Bumps will usually appear 2 to 3 months after infection. MC is highly contagious and spread through skin to skin contact during sexual play and autoinoculation (touching a bump or lesion and then touching another part of the body, for example if lesions appear on the eyelids, pinkeye (conjunctivitis) can develop), but it can also be spread from inanimate objects like towels, clothing, toys, or faucet handles that come in contact with an infected person’s bumps, so children and non-sexually active people can get it too.

In children, the bumps usually appear on the face, neck, armpits, hands and arms. In adults, the bumps are usually seen on the genitals, lower abdomen, inner upper thighs and butt. View photos of MC here on The STD Project’s site.

Doctors typically diagnose MC just by looking at the bumps. Skin scrapings from the infected area viewed under a microscope can provide a definite diagnoses. Thankfully, MC is curable and easily treatable. Medications can include antiviral creams or creams that contain salicylic acid (like Retin-A), though the bumps associated with MC usually disappear within a year on their own without treatment. Otherwise they may be removed by a doctor via freezing, scraping, or laser therapy. It is important to wash hands carefully so the virus does not come in contact with other parts of the body and remains as isolated as possible.

Covering bumps with bandages will also reduces the risk of spreading the virus to others or to other parts of the body. Condoms reduce the risk of getting MC during vaginal and anal intercourse. But because MC can be spread from skin to skin contact the virus may still be in the area that is not covered and protected by condoms. If you have bumps, it is best to avoid sexual contact until they go away or have been removed.

Read more about MC here on the Mayo Clinic’s site. To find a location to get tested for MC visit our resources page, or Google test centers in your area.

***This is a blog and the information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, nor is it meant to take the place of your personal physician’s advice.***