Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Molluscum Contagiosum

Definition

  • Molluscum are small raised growths that have a smooth, waxy surface
  • Viral infection of the skin

Call or Return If

  • Your child continues to pick at the molluscum
  • New molluscum develop after 2 weeks of treatment
  • Molluscum are still present after 12 weeks of treatment
  • You think your child needs to be seen

About This Topic

Symptoms

  • Small bumps with a waxy or pearl-colored, smooth surface
  • May have a dimple (indent) in center
  • Bumps are firm with a core of white material.
  • Are many different sizes, from pinhead to 1/4 inch (3 to 6 mm) across
  • Can occur anywhere on the body, but usually stay in just one area
  • Are sometimes itchy, but not painful
  • Usually age 2 to 12 years
  • Most infected children get 5 to 10 molluscum

Cause

  • Molluscum is caused by a poxvirus. This is a different virus than the one that causes warts.
  • Friction or picking at them causes them to increase in number.

To Treat or Not to Treat?

  • Some doctors advise not treating molluscum if there are only a few. Reason: Molluscum are harmless, painless, and have a natural tendency to heal and disappear.
  • Special treatment of molluscum is considered for the reasons below:
  • Your child picks at them
  • They are in areas of friction (for example, the armpit)
  • They are spreading rapidly OR
  • You feel they are a cosmetic problem

Prevention of Spread to Others

  • Avoid baths or hot tubs with other children. Reason: Molluscum can spread in warm water.
  • Also, avoid sharing washcloths or towels.
  • Contact sports: Molluscum can spread to other team members. Molluscum should be covered or treated.
  • Time it takes to get them: 4 to 8 weeks after close contact

After Care Advice

Overview:
  • Molluscum are harmless and painless.
  • Wart-removing acids are not helpful.
  • Duct tape treatment will make them go away faster.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Duct Tape - Cover the Molluscum:
  • Covering molluscum with duct tape can irritate them. This turns on the body's immune system.
  • Cover as many of the molluscum as possible. (Cover at least 3 of them.)
  • The covered molluscum become red and start to die. When this happens, often ALL molluscum will go away.
  • Try to keep the molluscum covered all the time.
  • Remove the tape once per day, usually before bathing. Then replace it after bathing.
  • Some children don't like the tape on at school. At the very least, tape it every night.
Prevention of Spread to Other Areas of Your Child's Body:
  • Discourage your child from picking at the molluscum.
  • Picking it and scratching a new area with the same finger can spread molluscum. A new molluscum can form in 1 to 2 months.
  • Chewing or sucking on them can lead to similar bumps on the face.
  • If your child is doing this, cover the molluscum with a Band-Aid.
  • Keep your child's fingernails cut short and wash your child's hands more often.
What to Expect:
  • Without treatment, molluscum go away in 6 to 18 months.
  • If covered with duct tape, they may go away in 2 or 3 months.
  • If picked at often, molluscum can become infected with bacteria. If this happens, they change into crusty sores (impetigo).
Return to School:
  • Your child doesn't have to miss any child care or school.
  • There is a mild risk of spread to others.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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