Molluscum Contagiosum in Children

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What is Molluscum Contagiosum in Children?


Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection affecting the skin. It most commonly affects children although it can occur later in life. Molluscum is usually a harmless condition which generally gets better after a few months without any specific treatment. However, because molluscum can spread around the body it can take around 18 months for the condition to completely clear from your child.

What are the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum?


The main symptom of molluscum is a number of firm domed shaped spots on the skin. These spots have a dimple in the middle and are usually around 5mm in size although occasionally bigger. They are pink or red in color with a white or yellow head in the center. If the head erupts through the spot the yellow substance will be released and is highly infectious.

The spots are usually between 20 and 30 in number although some children have more. They can develop all over the body or in small clusters most commonly starting in the armpit, groin or behind the knees. The spots are usually painless but can itch.

As the condition progresses the spots start to crust over and heal possibly with some mild swelling and redness around each spot as it starts to heal.

The spots do not usually leave scars but sometimes a lighter area of skin or perhaps even a small dent may remain for a short while after the spot has disappeared.

The virus causing molluscum can spread to other areas of the skin causing new spots to develop as the older ones disappear which is why molluscum can last for quite a long time. Generally most cases end between 6 to 18 months but rarely the virus can persist for longer.

Treating molluscum contagiosum


  • Treating molluscum in young children is not usually recommended as treatment can be painful and leave scarring or damage to the surrounding skin.
  • Infection usually clears up on its own and does not cause other symptoms than the spots.
  • The infection does not prevent children from their everyday activities such as school or sports.

How to prevent the spread of molluscum contagiosum


Although molluscum is contagious it is unlikely that it will spread to others if you follow these steps.

  • It is important to tell your child to avoid squeezing or scratching the spots because as well as increasing the risk of the infection spreading, this can cause pain, bleeding and can lead to scarring
  • keep affected areas of skin covered with clothing whenever possible – a waterproof bandage can be put over the area if your child goes swimming
  • avoid sharing towels, flannels and clothing
  • avoid sharing baths 


When to consult a doctor with molluscum contagiosum?


If you are concerned about the spots of molluscum or are unsure that this is what they are, or if they become infected or sore then consult your doctor for further diagnosis and treatment.

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