Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum Contagiosum

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Pronounced “mo-LUS-kum kun-tay-jee-OH-sum”, molluscum contagiosum, also known as water warts, is a contagious viral disease that affects the skin. It is relatively common and is defined by the development of firm round and painless bumps on the skin. These bumps, also known as lesion or papules, range from the size of a pinhead to an eraser on a pencil, or green pea. When these bumps are injured or scratched, the viral infection which causes them can spread to the surrounding skin. Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is also sometimes referred to as molluscipoxvirus (MCV).

MC type 1 is the most commonly seen type of the infection and usually affects children under the age of 10. MC type 1 results in lesions (warts) forming on the skin as a result of personal contact with an infected person. MC type 2 refers to cases of the infection that have been sexually transmitted and is more commonly seen amongst adults. MC type 2 is spread as a result of sexual intercourse or sexual contact and leads to lesions (warts) forming in the genital areas.

Molluscum contagiosum is most commonly seen in children between the ages of one and four1 and young adults, however, the infection can affect people of all ages and those who suffer from immunosuppression (i.e. a weakened immune system) in particular. In adults who have a healthy immune system, molluscum contagiosum that involves one’s genitals is regarded as an STI/STD (sexually transmitted infection/disease). 

The disease is spread through personal contact, as well as through coming into contact with objects that have been contaminated. The round bumps that are associated with the viral infection, molluscum contagiosum, will typically disappear on their own within the period of a year. This healing often occurs without any treatment, however, it is suggested that you seek treatment and removal by a doctor to prevent the spread of the infection.

Molluscum contagiosum is a virus that belongs to the group of viruses known as Poxviridae. The term “molluscus” is Latin and means soft. Molluscum contagiosum is a benign condition, meaning it does not pose a threat to the body or cause any harm and will typically resolve on its own.




1.  NCBI. December 2013. Epidemiology of molluscum contagiosum in children: a systematic review. Available: [Accessed 12.08.2017]

NEXT What are the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum?