Caused by molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV)
Molluscum is generally a benign infection and symptoms may resolve without treatment. Molluscum was once a disease primarily of children, but it has evolved to become a sexually transmitted disease in adults.
Download PDF versions below, formatted for print:
May appear 1 week to 6 months after infection, with an average of 2 to 3 months:
- Painless, flesh colored, gray-white, yellow or pink lesions, lasting from 2 weeks to 4 years with an average of 2 years.
- Lesions appear on the genitals, abdomen, inner thigh or anal area.
- Lesions may begin as small bumps but can develop into larger sores or bumps.
- People with AIDS or others with compromised immune systems may develop numerous lesions.
- Sexual contact (most common)
- Inanimate objects: towels and clothing
- Swimming pools and sharing baths
- Skin to skin contact
- May spread from one part of the body to another (autoinoculation)
- Can spread to sex partners
- If co-infected with HIV, molluscum infection may be more severe
- Molluscum increases the risk for other skin infections
- Avoiding vaginal, oral or anal sex is the best way to prevent STDs.
- Avoid skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.
- Limit the number of sex partners.
- Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of molluscum infection only when the infected areas are covered or protected by the condom.
- If infected with molluscum, avoid touching the lesion and then touching other parts of the body (autoinoculation).
- Sexual partners should be examined and treated at same time.
- Get a test from a medical provider if infection is suspected.
- Removal of lesions reduces autoinoculation and transmission to others.
Removal of lesions can be accomplished using:
- Surgery or electrosurgery
Note: Lesions may recur after treatment.
STD and HIV Section
Minnesota Department of Health
Minnesota Family Planning and STD Hotline Attention: Non-MDH link
1-800-783-2287 Voice/TTY; (651) 645-9360 (Metro)
American Social Health Association (ASHA)
Attention: Non-MDH link
CDC National STD and AIDS Hotlines
Attention: Non-MDH link
1-800-CDC-INFO; 1-888-232-6348 TTY
Content Notice: This site contains HIV or STD prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Since HIV and other STDs are spread primarily through sexual practices or by sharing needles, prevention messages and programs may address these topics. If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please exit this web site.