Dr Austin Isaacs
Updated: Oct 11, 2019
Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a viral infection that affects the skin and is quite common in children between 1 and 12 years. There can be a few spots or many that spread across the skin and body. It will usually get better over a few months though sometimes it can last longer, up to 6 to 18 months or more.
The rash appears as small raised spots (papules) on the skin with a small dimple in the middle, and may have the appearance of small wart-like growths. The spots are not painful, but can be itchy. They occur in small clusters and can spread across different parts of the body. They're most often found in the armpit or behind the knees. It may lead to tiny scars or pale skin after it has resolved.
MC can usually be diagnosed on the appearance without any further tests. Usually no treatment is recommended as it is usually harmless and resolves by itself. The treatments such as special creams or cryotherapy (freezing) can be painful and cause scars.
It can be spread through close contact or sharing towels. It is not necessary to stay away from nursery, school or swimming. However you should take simple steps to avoid spreading it e.g. keep affected areas of skin covered with clothing whenever possible, avoid sharing towels and baths.
Rarely it can become infected by a bacteria or become more inflamed and appear red with swelling and pain in the skin. If this occurs it may require treatment with antibiotics or a steroid cream. If there are spots on the eyelid these can cause a sore or red eye and this should be checked by a doctor as well. Please contact our office if you are concerned.