Children's Hospital Colorado


  • Small raised growths that have a smooth, waxy surface
  • The medical name is molluscum contagiosum
  • Viral infection of the skin
  • A doctor has told you your child has molluscum or
  • Your child has had close contact with another person who has it

Symptoms of Molluscum

  • Small bumps with a waxy or pearl-colored, smooth surface
  • May have a dimple (indent) in center
  • Bumps are firm with a core of white material.
  • Are many different sizes, from pinhead to ¼ inch (3 to 6 mm) across
  • Can occur anywhere on the body, but usually stay in just one area
  • Are sometimes itchy, but not painful
  • Usually age 2 to 12 years
  • Most infected children get 5 to 10 of them

Cause of Molluscum

  • They are caused by a poxvirus. This is a different virus than the one that causes warts.
  • Friction or picking at them causes them to increase in number.

To Treat or Not to Treat?

  • Some doctors advise not treating them if there are only a few. Reason: They are harmless and painless.
  • They have a natural tendency to heal and go away on their own.

When Special Treatment is Considered

  • Your child picks at them
  • They are in areas of friction (for example, the armpit)
  • They are spreading quickly or
  • You feel they are a cosmetic problem

Prevent Spread to Others

  • Avoid baths or hot tubs with other children. Reason: Can spread in warm water.
  • Also, avoid sharing washcloths or towels.
  • Contact sports: Can spread to other team members. They should be covered or treated.
  • Time it takes to get them: 4 to 8 weeks after close contact.

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Redness or red streak spreading from molluscum with fever
  • Your child looks or acts very sick

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Redness or red streak spreading from molluscum without fever
  • You think your child needs to be seen

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Molluscum on the face
  • 4 or more molluscum
  • Your child can't stop picking at the molluscum
  • Pus is draining from the molluscum (Apply antibiotic ointment 3 times per day until seen)
  • On treatment more than 2 weeks and new molluscum appear
  • On treatment more than 12 weeks and molluscum not gone
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Molluscum: 3 or less

Care Advice for Molluscum

  1. What You Should Know About Molluscum:
    • They are harmless and painless.
    • Wart-removing acids are not helpful.
    • Duct tape treatment will make them go away faster.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Duct Tape - Cover the Molluscum:
    • Covering them with duct tape can irritate them. This turns on the body's immune system.
    • Cover as many of them as possible. (Cover at least 3 of them.)
    • The covered ones become red and start to die. When this happens, often all of them will go away.
    • Try to keep them covered all the time.
    • Remove the tape once per day, usually before bathing. Then replace it after bathing.
    • Some children don't like the tape on at school. At the very least, tape it every night.
  3. Prevent the Spread to Other Areas of Your Child's Body:
    • Discourage your child from picking at them.
    • Picking it and scratching a new area with the same finger can spread them. A new one can form in 1 to 2 months.
    • Chewing or sucking on them can lead to similar bumps on the face.
    • If your child is doing this, cover them. You can use a bandage (such as Band-Aid).
    • Keep your child's fingernails cut short and wash your child's hands more often.
  4. What to Expect:
    • Without treatment, they go away in 6 to 18 months.
    • If covered with duct tape, they may go away in 2 or 3 months.
    • If picked at often, they can become infected with bacteria. If this happens, they change into crusty sores (impetigo).
  5. Return to School:
    • Your child doesn't have to miss any child care or school.
    • There is a mild risk of spread to others.
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Your child continues to pick at them
    • New ones develop after 2 weeks of treatment
    • They are still present after 12 weeks of treatment
    • You think your child needs to be seen

Care Advice for Molluscum

Molluscum Contagiosum

This shows an infection from the Molluscum contagiosum virus. Molluscum is sometimes called a water wart. The growths are pink, white or pearly-colored. They are firm, small and raised with a dimple in the middle.

Molluscum Contagiosum - Eye

This shows an eye with an infection from the Molluscum contagiosum virus. The growths are pink, white or pearly-colored. They are firm, small and raised with a dimple in the middle.


The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

If you think that your child is having a medical emergency, call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!

And when in doubt, call your child's doctor NOW or go to the closest emergency department.

The search for nearby emergency and urgent care facilities is based upon Google search parameters. You will get results based on how facilities manage their website information.

By using this website, you accept the information provided herein "AS IS." Neither publishers nor the providers of the information contained herein will have any liability to you arising out of your use of the information contained herein or make any expressed or implied warranty regarding the accuracy, content, completeness, reliability, or efficacy of the information contained within this website.

Copyright 2000-2018. Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

Related departments