Molluscum Contagiosum in Children

What is molluscum contagiosum in children?

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin disease that causes small pink or skin-colored bumps on your child’s skin. It is not harmful and usually does not have any other symptoms. The virus is inside the bumps and is mildly contagious. These bumps usually clear over time.

What causes molluscum contagiosum in a child??

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus called the poxvirus. It is very common in children and adolescents.

Which children are at risk for molluscum contagiosum?

Children can get molluscum contagiosum by skin-to-skin contact with a person who has it. The problem is found worldwide but is thought to be more common in hot, humid environments.

What are the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum in a child?

The bumps are small and are usually pink or skin-colored. Eventually, the bumps tend to have a small sunken center. The bumps can show up alone or in clusters. They are not harmful, but they may make your child feel self-conscious if they appear on the face or other visible areas.

How is molluscum contagiosum diagnosed in a child?

The bumps are unique and are usually diagnosed on physical exam. The healthcare provider will also take your child’s health history. Additional tests are not routinely ordered.

How is molluscum contagiosum treated in a child?

Treatment will depend on your child's symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

In most cases, the bumps will heal without treatment over a period of 6 to 12 months. The virus can last up to 4 years and leave scars. Additional treatment choices may include:

  • Removing the bumps by freezing them, using lasers, or cutting them out with a special instrument
  • Using medicines on the skin to help the bumps go away faster

Some treatments sold on the Internet may not work and may be harmful, according to the CDC. For your child’s safety, talk with your child's healthcare provider before trying any alternative treatments.

What can I do to prevent molluscum contagiosum in my child?

The virus inside the bump is only mildly contagious. It can be spread to other children who directly touch the bumps. The best prevention is to avoid contact with the bumps.

How can I help my child live with molluscum contagiosum?

The virus will gradually disappear on its own. But it can take months, or even years, for the bumps to completely heal. During this time it is important that your child does not scratch the bumps. Scratching them causes the virus to spread and draws out the time it takes for them to heal. You don't need to limit your child’s activities, school, child care, sports, or swimming in public pools. But it is important to cover the bumps with a waterproof bandage during contact sports such as wrestling to prevent passing the virus to another person. Also help your child follow good personal hygiene, especially washing their hands often.

When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?

If you think your child has molluscum contagiosum, talk with your child’s healthcare provider about treatment choices.

Key points about molluscum contagiosum in children

  • Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin disease that causes small pink or skin-colored bumps on your child’s skin.
  • It is not harmful, does not have any other symptoms, and is only mildly contagious.
  • It is very common in children and adolescents.
  • In most cases, the bumps will heal without treatment over a period of 6 to 12 months.
  • You should discuss treatment options with your child’s healthcare provider.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.
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