Molluscum contagiosum: Signs and symptoms

Molluscum contagiosum: Signs and symptoms

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Bumps on the skin can be  the only sign that a person has molluscum contagiosum. These bumps often appear about 7 weeks after being exposed to the virus that causes molluscum. Sometimes, the bumps do not appear for many months.

                molluscum contagiosum on child's skin Molluscum contagiousum: These bumps appeared on the neck of a 5-year-old boy. Children often get this skin disease.

When the bumps appear on the skin, they often:

  • Begin as small, firm, dome-shaped growths.
  • Have a surface that feels smooth, waxy, or pearly.
  • Are flesh-colored or pink.
  • Have a dimple in the center. The dimple may be filled with a thick, white substance that is cheesy or waxy.
  • Are painless, but some bumps itch.
  • Turn red as the person’s immune system fights the virus.
  • Appear on other areas of the body after a person scratches or picks the bumps. Scratching or picking can spread the virus.
                 severe outbreak of molluscum contagiosum Molluscum contagiosum: People who have a weakened immune system can get hundreds of bumps. 

In adults, the bumps often appear on the face, neck, armpits, arms, and hands. Other common places for bumps to appear are the genitals, abdomen, and inner thighs. Adults often get molluscum contagiosum through sexual contact.

                large mollusca on forehead Molluscum contagiosum: Having large or many mollusca (bumps) can be a sign of an HIV infection. 

If a person has a disease that weakens the immune system, such as AIDS, the bumps can grow very large. A person may have 100 or more bumps on the face alone.

Learn more about molluscum contagiosum:

Images used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Teaching Slides.

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