Definition: Molluscum are raised, round, smooth bumps on the skin that look like thick-walled pimples. They usually have a "waxy" or skin-colored with a dimple (indent) in the center. If they are popped (not recommended) they have a firm, white, cheesy material on the inside. Frequently they are found in just one area of the body, but they can spread due to scratching (known as auto inoculation.). They can be of varying sizes, from pinhead to 1/4 –inch across. They are not painful, but are sometimes itchy.
Cause: Molluscum is caused by a poxvirus. It is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact (close contact) with an infected person. Children aged 2 to 12 years are the most likely to be infected by this virus. Molluscum can be spread to other parts of the body if a child picks at a bump and then scratches elsewhere.
Expected course: Most molluscum disappear without treatment in 6 to 18 months. Molluscum can spread rapidly and last longer in children who also have atopic dermatitis (eczema). If repeatedly picked at, molluscum can become infected with bacteria and change into crusty sores (impetigo). Most children develop only five to ten molluscum, but some acquire more. Regardless of the number, they are a temporary condition.
Treatment: Because molluscum are harmless, painless, and have a natural tendency to heal and disappear without scarring on their own, we don't generally recommend any form of treatment. The treatments available may be painful and frightening, especially to younger children, and often will leave a scar. In addition, treatment may be unsuccessful or need to be repeated. Treatment is considered unnecessary as molluscum is caused by a virus that does go away on it's own.
Contagiousness: Molluscum is only mildly contagious to other people. (The incubation period is 3 to 8 weeks.) Your child can attend childcare, preschool, and school without undue concern about spread.
Call the office...
During regular office hours if:
* A molluscum becomes open and looks infected.
* Your child continues to pick at the molluscum.
* The molluscum are spreading rapidly.
* You have other questions or concerns.