Symptoms of a viral infection

What does Molluscum contagiosum look like?

Usually, the only symptom of Molluscum contagiosum is several small, raised, firm bumps (papules) on the skin. These are not painful, but can be itchy, red, swollen or slightly sore. One of the common names for Molluscum contagiosum is ‘water-warts’, which is a good way of describing its appearance. It also looks somewhat like small raised blisters with dome-like papules of between 2 and 6mm in diameter, which have a shiny or lustrous surface and are often grouped together. The spots often have a depressed or wrinkled (umbilicated) centre. The affected skin is often of normal colour, but sometimes can appear slightly red or lighter, particularly on darker skins.

MolluDab - Identification & diagnosis of Molluscum contagiosum MolluDab - Identification & diagnosis of Molluscum contagiosum MolluDab - Identification & diagnosis of Molluscum contagiosum

In contrast with classical warts, Molluscum contagiosum is not usually found on the palms of hands or soles of feet. A yellowy-whitish mass can be squeezed out of the centre (however, this is not advised as this substance contains the virus, is highly infectious, and can rapidly increase the spread of the spots).

Where does Molluscum contagiosum affect?

The papules are usually distributed over the face, trunk, limbs and armpits in children. In adults, typical distribution is over the pubic, groin and ano-genital areas. Hands and feet can be affected, but this is far less common. There are typically less than 20 papules on the body, however, in some rare instances, people have reported >100 papules.