Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is an infection that causes spots on the skin. It's usually harmless and rarely needs treatment.

Check if it's molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is more common in children, but anyone can get it.

Usually, the only symptom of molluscum contagiosum is spots.

A close-up of circular, red spots up to 5mm wide on white skin. Some spots are raised with a shiny white centre and some have a small hole or dimple in the middle.
The spots are about 2 to 5mm wide and usually appear together. They are raised and dome-shaped with a shiny white dimple in the middle.
A child’s neck and torso showing many raised red spots, especially in the folds of the neck (shown on light brown skin).
Children with the infection often get spots on their body and in or around folds of skin (groin, behind the knee and armpits).
A close-up of the pubic area with small red spots (shown on white skin).
In adults where the infection is spread through sexual contact, spots may be around the lower tummy, genital area and thighs.
A close-up of the side of a person’s face showing raised spots near the eye (shown on dark brown skin).
Someone with a weakened immune system may get spots on the face, around the eyes or have many or bigger spots.
Information:

If you're not sure it's molluscum contagiosum

Check other rashes in babies and children.

How to look after yourself or your child

The spots caused by molluscum contagiosum are usually harmless and should clear up within 18 months without needing treatment.

Molluscum contagiosum is contagious. It is usually passed on by direct skin to skin contact.

The chance of passing it on to other people during normal activities is small so you or your child should be able to carry on with your normal activities. If you are not sure, check with a GP.

There are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of the infection spreading and help ease any symptoms.

Do

  • try things to help with dryness and itchy skin, such as holding a damp towel against the skin, having cool baths or using an unperfumed moisturiser regularly

  • keep the affected area covered, including using waterproof bandages if you go swimming

  • use a condom while having sex if you are infected

Don’t

  • do not squeeze or scratch the spots, as it could cause an infection or scarrring

  • do not share baths or things such as towels, bedding or clothes

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you are not sure your spots are caused by molluscum contagiosum
  • the spots are very itchy, painful, swollen or covered with crusts
  • you have spots near your eyes

Treating molluscum contagiosum

It's rare to need treatment for molluscum contagiosum because it usually clears up on its own.

But treatment may be recommended if the spots are causing problems.

For example, a GP may suggest:

A GP may refer you to a specialist for tests and treatment if:

Page last reviewed: 10 October 2022
Next review due: 10 October 2025