Your doctor usually can diagnose molluscum contagiosum just by looking at it. If there's any doubt, he or she may take skin scrapings from the infected area and view them under a microscope.
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.
- Freezing (cryotherapy)
- A medicine that causes blisters (cantharidin), which lift off the bumps
Preparing for your appointment
You'll likely start by visiting your or your child's primary care practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a doctor who specializes in treating skin conditions (dermatologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well-prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Before your appointment, write a list that answers the following questions:
- What symptoms are you experiencing?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- What medications and supplements do you take on a regular basis?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- Have you had similar lesions in the past?
- Has anyone close to you had similar lesions?
March 21, 2020
- Molluscum contagiosum. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/molluscum-contagiosum/index.html. Accessed Feb. 27, 2018.
- Longo DL, et al., eds. Molluscum contagiosum, monkeypox, and other poxvirus infections. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Feb. 27, 2018.
- Hay WW, et al., eds. Skin. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 23rd ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2016. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Feb. 27, 2018.
- Isaacs SN. Molluscum contagiosum. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Feb. 27, 2018.
- AskMayoExpert. Molluscum contagiosum. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 2018.