What is Molluscum Contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection that causes a skin rash. It is a poxvirus and is spread via contact. When it affects the genitals, it is considered an STD. While it does not have a cure, the virus eventually resolves itself.


Molluscum contagiosum is spread through contact. This can take place in many forms:

  • Anal Sex
  • Oral Sex
  • Vaginal Sex
  • Casual Contact
  • Contact with contaminated objects
  • Scratching can spread the virus to nearby areas

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Molluscum Contagiosum in Men & Women?

The main symptom of a molluscum contagiosum infection is the rash:

  • Flesh-colored bumps, generally raised and round
  • Small 2-5 mm across
  • Usually have a small dot/indentation
  • Possibly red or inflamed
  • Removed easily by scratching


Molluscum contagiosum does not have any serious complications associated with it. However, scratching of the rash can lead to bacterial infections.

Partners and Re-infection

The infection can be easily transferred to partners even with condom use. Re-infection is always a possibility and care should be taken to avoid exposure.


Individual lesions generally disappear in 2-4 weeks; however, the condition can take longer to resolve entirely. Roughly 35% of patients have what appears to be a recurrence, but it is not clear if it is true recurrence or a re-infection or a case of the virus that had not completely resolved yet.

How is Molluscum Contagiosum Treated?

Often the preferred treatment is to let the condition resolve itself. However, especially in adults, the bumps are often removed surgically to prevent transmission. Methods used include:

  • Freezing
  • Laser
  • Scraping

Medications used to remove warts may also be recommended.

Recovery Time

Without treatment, healthy people can have symptoms disappear in 6-12 months. However, the virus itself may stay in the person's body for many years.

Sexual Activity

As the virus is easily spread and not generally covered by condoms, sexual activity should be avoided until all symptoms are resolved.

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Written by Mark Riegel, MD

Quick Snapshot

Can it be cured?

No. The virus has to run its course.

Type of Infection

Viral. The infection is caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus - a member of the poxvirus family.

How is it treated?

Removal. Sometimes no treatment is given. Other times the bumps are removed (scraping, laser, freezing).

Recovery Time

6 to 12 months. Untreated symptoms can disappear in 6-12 months.

Can I have sex?

No. Sexual activity should be avoided until all symptoms have resolved.

Can I get re-infected?

Yes. People can be re-infected with the virus repeatedly.

Do I Have Molluscum Contagiosum?

Find out whether or not you have Molluscum Contagiosum and what STD test is recommended using our anonymous symptom checker. Get you personalized recommendations now!

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