Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

The molluscum contagiosum virus can be spread through pool water.

The molluscum contagiosum virus can be spread through pool water.
beginning of content

Molluscum contagiosum

2-minute read

Molluscum contagiosum is a common, generally harmless, skin infection caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV). The virus causes small, raised spots that can be spread by skin-to-skin contact. It is more common in children, although it can affect people of any age.

Symptoms of molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum is painless but can be itchy. When the spots appear, they look like pimples. Over time they become round, pink or pearl-coloured lumps with a hard core and often a dimple in the centre. The spots are usually very small, about 1-2 millimetres, but they can be as large as 2 centimetres.

Picture of molluscum contagiosum.
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection where spots appear, which start out looking like pimples.

Treatment of molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum usually heal within months without any treatment, although people with impaired immune systems can have the spots for several years. Molluscum usually heal without leaving a scar, although aggressive treatment and scratching can leave a mark similar to a chickenpox scar.

It is important to see your doctor for correct diagnosis of molluscum contagiosum. While no treatment is usually needed, your doctor might suggest treatment to improve the way the spots look, to prevent spread, and to reduce the risk of scarring. Treatment can involve irritating the spots with tape or solutions to cause an immune response, applying creams or using cryotherapy to freeze them.

Prevention of molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum can be spread by touching the spots, although it may be months before spots appear after infection. Molluscum can also be spread to different parts of the body or to other people in bath or pool water, on bath toys, towels, face cloths or clothing.

You can help stop molluscum spreading by:

  • showering rather than bathing
  • washing and drying children’s bath toys after use
  • not sharing towels, face washers or clothing
  • drying the affected area last after showering
  • washing hands thoroughly after touching the spots

People with molluscum can attend school and work because clothing usually covers the affected areas.

Molluscum can also be sexually transmitted. For adults with molluscum on the genital area, transmission to sexual partners can be minimised by using condoms and dental dams, although these don’t completely stop it spreading.

If you or your recent sexual partners become infected with molluscum, it’s a good idea to get tested for other sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2019

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a fairly common skin infection caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus.

Read more on WA Health website

Molluscum Contagiosum - ACD

Molluscum contagiosum is a common viral skin infection which occurs worldwide but is more common in warm climates. This condition frequently affects children.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum Contagiosum - let's just call it molluscum! Really common and usually nothing more than a nuisance. "Yuck" is a common reaction but it's harmless & part of growing up for many kids.

Read more on Skin Check website

Molluscum contagiosum in children | Raising Children Network

Molluscum contagiosum is a common childhood skin infection. It causes small red or flesh-coloured spots. It isnt serious but can be hard to get rid of.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Common childhood rashes

Childhood rashes are common and many disappear without treatment. Learn about symptoms and treatment of childhood rashes, such as eczema, ringworm and impetigo.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Sexually transmitted infections

Sexually transmitted infections are infections or diseases that are passed on during unprotected sex with an infected partner.

Read more on WA Health website

Male and female reproductive

Find health conditions articles related to the male and female reproductive systems.

Read more on WA Health website

Exclusion from childcare, preschool, school and work :: SA Health

Exclusion periods for people with a infectious disease, Exclusion periods help prevent diseases spreading

Read more on SA Health website

Skin Check - How do we do it? - South East Skin Clinic

What is involved in a Skin Check at South East Skin Clinic? Our three mole scanners compliment each other, but how? What's the evidence for a skin check?

Read more on Skin Check website

Infectious diseases: when can my child go back to school or child care? - myDr.com.au

Children with certain infections need to stay away from school or child care to recover and to help stop the spread of infection. Use this guide to work out how long your child should stay away.

Read more on myDr website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo