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Molluscum contagiosum (pediatric) in Infant/Neonate
See also in: Anogenital
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Molluscum contagiosum (pediatric) in Infant/Neonate

See also in: Anogenital
Contributors: Sabrina Nurmohamed MD, Craig N. Burkhart MD, Dean Morrell MD, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


This summary discusses pediatric patients. Molluscum contagiosum in adults is addressed separately.

Molluscum contagiosum is a common viral skin infection of childhood caused by a DNA poxvirus. It is usually transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact, through fomites, or from autoinoculation. There is an increased incidence in children with underlying atopic dermatitis, swimmers, children who bathe together, those who share towels, and immunosuppressed people.

Infection is infrequent in newborns and infants. The rarity of the condition in those aged younger than one year is thought to reflect transmitted immunity through maternal antibodies.

The exact incubation period is unknown but is estimated to be between 2 and 6 weeks. Though self-limited, the infection is often chronic and can range from a few months to 4 years before disappearing.

Molluscum can be found anywhere on the body. Genital involvement does not absolutely imply sexual transmission, as molluscum may be autoinoculated from a nongenital site to the genital area. A thorough history will direct suspicion for sexual abuse in these cases.


B08.1 – Molluscum contagiosum

40070004 – Molluscum contagiosum

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

Molluscum-like papules may be seen in:
Other causes of infection should be considered in immunocompromised children.

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Last Updated:03/06/2019
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Patient Information for Molluscum contagiosum (pediatric) in Infant/Neonate
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Contributors: Medical staff writer


Molluscum contagiosum appears as small pearly, skin-colored, wart-like lesions on the body. It is caused by a common virus and is spread by direct contact with other affected children or adults, or by touching objects that have been handled by infected people. Molluscum contagiosum is painless and typically harmless; it usually disappears in 6-9 months on its own but could last for a few years. Children who are affected with molluscum contagiosum can spread the rash to other areas of their body by itching or rubbing the lesions.

Who’s At Risk

The typical age of children infected by molluscum contagiosum is 2-5 years, but infants may also be affected. The lesions may be anywhere on the body, but the face, eyelids, neck, underarms, and thighs are the most commonly affected areas. Infants with atopic dermatitis (eczema) may be more commonly affected by molluscum contagiosum.

Signs & Symptoms

One or more small (1-5 mm) pink, white, or skin-colored, smooth papules (solid bumps), often with a tiny dot or depression in the center, occur in clusters and sometimes in a straight line from scratching (self-inoculation). In darker skin colors, the lesions may appear skin-colored or purple. In individuals with an immune system deficiency, the bumps can be larger than a thumbnail.

Self-Care Guidelines

Care should be taken to avoid your baby scratching or rubbing the areas. Keep the area covered to avoid transmission of the virus, and avoid sharing clothing, towels, and bedding with others.

When to Seek Medical Care

If you suspect that your baby has molluscum contagiosum, consult a health professional.


Your baby's health professional will assess the skin and make recommendations for treatment if lesions are spreading or increasing in number.
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Molluscum contagiosum (pediatric) in Infant/Neonate
See also in: Anogenital
A medical illustration showing key findings of Molluscum contagiosum (pediatric) : Scattered many, Pruritus, Umbilicated papules
Clinical image of Molluscum contagiosum (pediatric) - imageId=76426. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'A close-up of a pink umbilicated papule.'
A close-up of a pink umbilicated papule.
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