Molluscum contagiosum (mol-US-kum kon-tay-jee-OH-sum) is a common viral skin infection that causes a mild rash.
The molluscum contagiosum rash doesn't usually cause lasting problems, but is contagious. It can spread to other parts of the body or to other people through skin-to-skin contact (including sexual contact) or contact with an infected person's bath towels or clothes.
The rash looks like one or more small growths or wart-like bumps (called mollusca) that are pink, white, or skin-colored. The bumps are typically soft and smooth and may have an indented center. Although usually painless, the bumps may become itchy, sore, red, and/or swollen. If scratched or picked, they can become infected with bacteria.
A doctor often can recognize molluscum contagiosum just by looking at the rash. In many cases, doctors recommend letting the rash go away on its own without treatment. This usually takes 6-12 months, but sometimes can be longer.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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