Molluscum contagiosum is a viral disease of the skin that causes small pink- or skin-colored bumps on the skin of a child. It is not harmful and usually does not have any other symptoms. The virus lives inside the bumps and is mildly contagious. The bumps usually clear up without treatment over 6 to 9 months.
Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus called the poxvirus. It is most common in children and adolescents, although it can also affect adults.
The bumps are small and are usually pink- or skin-colored. Over time, the bumps may develop a small, sunken center. Children usually develop between two and 20 lesions, often in clusters. They are not harmful, but may cause some cosmetic concern for the child if they appear on the face or other visible areas.
Molluscum contagiosum is usually diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination of the child. The lesions are unique and usually are diagnosed on physical examination.
Specific treatment for molluscum contagiosum will be determined by the physician based on:
In most cases, the lesions will heal without treatment over six to nine months. Additional treatment options may include:
The Division of Dermatology at Children's National Hospital continues to expand services as more families seek our expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the skin, hair and nails.
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Sometimes a mom’s intuition is all it takes to get her child to the right physician. When 8-year-old Xavion Chisley developed a fungal infection on his toe, his mother, Nikki, immediately took him to see a dermatologist who removed his toenail to treat the infection. However, when Xavion’s toenail grew back, the infection had not diminished but actually appeared to be spreading to his foot.
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