Molluscum Contagiosum

Medical Dermatology

Skin Conditions

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Molluscum contagiosum is a common skin disease caused by a virus. The lesions are usually small flesh-colored or pink dome-shaped growths that often become red or inflamed. They may appear shiny and have a small indentation in the center.

The molluscum virus is transmitted from the skin of one person who has these growths to the skin of another person. It occurs most often in young children, especially among siblings.

Many dermatologists advise treating molluscum because the growths are easily spread from one area of the skin to another. Some growths may appear as others are going away. However, most molluscum will eventually go away without leaving a scar. It may take from 6 months up to 5 years for all of the molluscum to go away.

Molluscum can be frozen with liquid nitrogen, destroyed with various acids or blistering solutions, treated with an electric needle (electrocautery), scraped off with a sharp instrument (curette), treated daily with a home application of a topical retinoid cream or gel, a topical immune modifier, or other topical antiviral medications. Some discomfort is associated with freezing, scraping, and using the electric needle. If there are many growths, multiple treatment sessions may be needed every 3 to 6 weeks until the growths are gone. An option, especially with young children, is not to treat molluscum and wait for the growths to go away.