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Molluscum contagiosum is a common viral skin infection. It most often affects infants and young children but adults may also be infected.

Molluscum contagiosum presents as clusters of small round bumps (papules) especially in the warm moist places such as the armpit, groin or behind the knees. They range in size from 1 to 6 mm and may be white, pink or brown. They often have a waxy, pinkish look with a small central pit (umbilicated). As they resolve, they may become inflamed, crusted or scabby. There may be few or hundreds of spots on one individual.

Molluscum contagiosum is a harmless virus but it may persist for months or occasionally for a couple of years. It frequently induces a type of dermatitis in the affected areas, which are dry, pink and itchy. Molluscum contagiosum may rarely leave tiny pit-like scars.


Molluscum contagiosum can be spread from person to person (especially children) by direct skin contact. This appears to be more likely in wet conditions, such as when children bathe or swim together. Sexual transmission is possible in adults.

Lesions tend to be more numerous and last longer in children who also have atopic eczema. It can be very extensive and troublesome in patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection.

Molluscum contagiosum may arise in areas that have been injured, often because they've been scratched. The papules form a row; this is known as koebnerised molluscum.


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