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Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Molluscum contagiosum are small protruding, smooth, shiny bumps, often flesh-colored or pink/red, and distinguished by the dip in the center of their tip.

If squeezed (and we advise not), a semi-solid substance may ooze out. This is not recommended as this liquid contains the molluscum virus that causes the bumps, and as these are highly contagious, squeezing risks spreading to other parts of the body or gifting to friends and loved ones.

Molluscum is common and usually seen in children. It causes no harm, but parents or sufferers may be bothered by the appearance, and occasionally, a molluscum may become itchy and irritated, or even infected with bacteria.

Is it contagious?

Molluscum is contagious, as the full name implies, so you (or your infected child) should be careful not to share towels, clothes, or bed linen. The jury is out on whether you can visit swimming pools, but if you do want to go to the pool, it's advised that all visible lesions are covered with watertight bandages, and these are disposed of afterward.

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

Molluscum will eventually go away on their own, but if they are bothersome, then they can be treated with a product containing potassium hydroxide 5% (also called Mollutrex). Mollutrex comes with an applicator that's precise, easy to use, and protects healthy skin. The bumps can be cleared in as little as 5 weeks. It is suitable for adults and children over two years old, and is applied twice a day with an applicator.

Other treatments for particularly itchy or bothersome bumps include using an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine or another antihistamine that should relieve itching and irritation. Try to avoid scratching the bumps, as this can lead to weepy wounds that could spread the infection further, or lead to infection.

In addition, a good skin cleaning solution such as Hibiclens may also help to prevent infection and keep secondary bacterial infections at bay.

Am I fit for work?

You are fit for work if you have molluscum (and your child is fit for school).

When should I see my doctor?

See your doctor if one particular molluscum becomes sore and red, as this may have become infected by bacteria.

Otherwise, you could leave these spots alone, and they will clear up within a few months, or you can purchase a product from a pharmacy to speed up clearance.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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