Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum (water warts) is a harmless but very contagious viral infection of the skin.

Overview

Molluscum contagiosum (water warts) is a harmless but very contagious viral infection of the skin. Whitish lesions with a small dimple in the centre often appear around the eyes. They usually disappear on their own, but can also be removed by a doctor.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Pinhead to pea-sized flesh-coloured or white warts
  • Smooth and shiny surface with a small dimple in the centre
  • Often around the eyes

Other symptoms

  • A whitish waxy material emerges if the wart is pressed
  • Can occasionally be itchy

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Infection with a pox virus (molluscum contagiosum virus)
  • Spread by direct bodily contact (smear infection)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Molluscum contagiosum usually clears up on its own after a few months or years. However, the spots can be unsightly.

Possible tests
  • The typical appearance of the spots suffices for a diagnosis
Possible therapies
  • Curettage (the warts are scraped off with a sharp spoon-shaped tool)
  • Cryotherapy (freezing of the warts)
  • Laser therapy
  • Special vitamin A lotions

What can I do myself?

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with warts
  • Don’t play with, scratch or pull off the warts
  • Use a separate hand or bath towel
  • Children with water warts should not share a bath with other children / their siblings

When to see a doctor?

  • If the water warts don’t disappear on their own (months to years)
  • For cosmetic reasons (e.g. many warts in the face)
  • If water warts reoccur

Synonyms

mollusca contagiosa, water warts

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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