Molluscum contagiosum are a non-threatening skin infection cause by a strain of the poxvirus. This condition is common among children and adolescents, but it is a bit less common among adults. Molluscum contagiosum is particularly common in children up to 12 years old. Infection occurs primarily by direct skin contact when the poxvirus is transmitted upon contact. Molluscum contagiosum can also be transferred via items such as clothing and towels that have come in contact with the poxvirus. Approximately 2 to 8 weeks after time of infection, the lesions – called mollusca – begins to develop. The risk of infection is greatest when the lesions become red and begin to burst.


lesions on the belly

The lesions have an appearance similar to warts, however they often have an indentation in the centre, which make it easier to distinguish molluscum lesions from warts. Molluscum contagiosum start as minor lesions. They resemble a skin-coloured bud or bud-like structure, about the same size as the head of a needle. The lesions grow and when they reach mature status, the mollusca will have grown to between 2 to 5 mm in diameter. The structures often have something resembling a crater in their centre, with a whitish mass within the “crater”. The lesions may then take on a reddish colour. It is often the case that the molluscum lesions become red and irritating before they finally disappear. At this stage, it is common that the lesions break and eventually heal.

Molluscum contagiosum is a completly non-threatening skin infection, but it can have an unsightly appearance. What makes molluscum contagiosum a troublesome condition is the long period of time it takes for the body to defeat the infection and free itself of the lesions. Recovery time varies considerably and it can take anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years before the lesions are completely gone. You do not have to treat molluscum lesions however, in view of the long recovery time, it might be desirable to accelerate the recovery process with a wart remedy or a treatment for molluscum contagiosum.

Where do children get molluscum contagiosum?
Children may get molluscum contagiosum on their entire body, but it is particularly common for the lesions to develop in the bends of the knees, around the armpits, on the neck, as well as on the hands and face. Molluscum contagiosum very seldom appear on the soles of the feet or on the palms of the hands.

Why children are more often afflicted
Adults may also contract molluscum contagiosum, but children are much more often affected. The fact that adults are more seldom afflicted than children is largely due to a combination of the adults’ immune system and increased resistance to the virus due to previous exposure. Another reason is that many children have one or a few molluscum lesions which neither they nor their parents have noticed, for example in the bend of the arms or knees. These may spread further and lead to the establishment of more lesions.

Since molluscum contagiosum can be transmitted via indirect contact, children should refrain from using towels or clothing which are being used by someone who has been infected. Even objects such as toys may be transmitters of the condition. The risk of indirect transmission is, nevertheless, much lower compared to direct skin contact. If possible, children should avoid skin contact with other infected children.

Ask your children to check for lesions in the bends of the knees and arms and in the armpits, or check them yourself. These can potentially spread the condition or infect others, so it is good to be aware of all molluscum lesions on the body.

One should not scratch the molluscum lesions, even if the lesions are itchy or irritating. This is because there is a certain risk of infection, and it is not good if the lesions are damaged or irritated by scratching. If the child scratches the lesions nevertheless, one should make sure that the child’s nails are shortly trimmed and clean.