Molluscum Contagiosum

What is it?

Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection caused by a virus. If you’ve caught it, you won’t know for several weeks or even months. One day, small pimples will appear on your skin. Soon they become shiny, flesh-coloured bumps. The center of each bump is slightly depressed and holds a tiny amount of soft, white pus. Many people mistake the bumps for genital warts.

Molluscum contagiosum bumps can develop anywhere on your body, but if you’ve caught the virus because you’ve had sex with an infected partner, they’ll probably show up on your genitals, buttocks, or thighs. You may have 10 or 20 of them, or even up to 100.

How do I get it?

The virus is easily transmitted from one area of the body to another if skin-to-skin contact is frequent. Children often pass it to friends and siblings through casual touching. It can also be spread in swimming pools.

How do I get tested?

One look at the bumps and a doctor or nurse should be able to tell you what they are. Some health providers may scrape away the center of a bump and study it under a microscope to be certain of their diagnosis.

Can I get rid of it?

The only treatment is to remove the soft centers. When this is done, the bumps will eventually disappear. Sometimes it can take one to two weeks before all the bumps are gone. There are no long-term health consequences to molluscum contagiosum.