Molluscum contagiosum usually gets better without treatment in six to 12 months. However, it's possible to continue developing bumps for up to five years. Once all of your bumps are gone, you're no longer contagious.
Doctors may recommend that the lesions be removed before they disappear on their own, particularly in adults, because they are so contagious. Treatments for molluscum contagiosum can be painful, so an anesthetic might be administered beforehand to lessen discomfort. Sometimes a combination of treatments may be used.
In some cases, prescription or over-the-counter medications applied directly to the lesions may be helpful. Examples include:
- Irritating products. These preparations often contain ingredients such as salicylic acid or potassium hydroxide that help dissolve the lesion over time. Others may cause a blister to form under the bump, lifting it off your skin.
- Topical creams. Prescription creams and gels containing retinoids — such as tretinoin (Atralin, Retin-A, others), adapalene (Differin) and tazarotene (Avage, Tazorac) — have been used to treat molluscum contagiosum. These medications cannot be used during pregnancy.
Surgical and other procedures
The methods doctors use to remove molluscum contagiosum bumps include:
- Freezing (cryotherapy)
- Laser therapy
Molluscum contagiosun doesn't stay in the body once the infection has cleared up, but you can be reinfected with this virus if you come in contact with someone who has an active infection.
March 21, 2015
- Molluscum (Molluscum contagiosum): Frequently asked questions for everyone. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/molluscum/faq/everyone.htm. Accessed Jan. 14, 2015.
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- Papadakis MA, ed., et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2015. 54th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2015. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookID=1019. Accessed Jan. 11, 2015.
- Isaacs SN. Molluscum contagiosum. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 11, 2015.