Should Your Child See a Doctor?

Molluscum

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.

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

  • Molluscum: 3 or less

Care Advice for Molluscum

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Return to School:
    • Your child doesn't have to miss any child care or school.
    • There is a mild risk of spread to others.
  6. 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 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.

Copyright 1994-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.