Molluscum contagiosum, a contagious skin condition, is caused by a virus called molluscum contagiosum that is part of the pox virus family. The virus is contagious through direct contact and is more common in children. However, the virus also can be spread by sexual contact and can occur in people with compromised immune systems. Molluscum contagiosum can spread on a single individual through scratching and rubbing.
Common locations for the molluscum contagiosum papules are on the face, trunk, and limbs of children and on the genitals, abdomens, and inner thighs of adults. The condition usually results in papules that:
- Are generally painless, but can itch
- Are small (2 to 5 millimeter diameter)
- Have a dimple in the center
- Are initially firm, dome-shaped, and flesh-colored
- Become softer with time
- May turn red and drain over time
- Have a central core of white, waxy material
Molluscum contagiosum usually disappears spontaneously over a period of months to years in people who have normal immune systems. In people who have AIDS or other conditions that affect the immune system, the lesions associated with molluscum contagiosum can be extensive and especially chronic.
Any time you notice an unusual rash or other skin abnormality on your child, see your healthcare provider.