Should Your Child See a Doctor?
Is this your child's symptom?
- Molluscum are 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.
When to Call for Molluscum
Call Doctor Now or Go to ER
- 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
Estimated Urgent Care Wait Times
These are estimated wait times for each Urgent Care clinic. Wait times may vary depending on the severity of the illnesses we are treating.
If your child’s illness or injury is life-threating, call 911.
Care Advice for Molluscum
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Return to School:
- Your child doesn't have to miss any child care or school.
- There is a mild risk of spread to others.
- 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
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended 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.
Last Reviewed: 10/20/2014
Last Revised: 10/20/2014
Copyright 1994-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.