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Molluscum contagiosum in adults

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with molluscum contagiosum as an adult (or you’re concerned you might have it), here’s where you can find more information about how you can help prevent it spreading and what causes it. Further down the page you’ll also find more information about molluscum contagiosum from Dr Rob Hicks.

What causes molluscum contagiosum in adults?

Molluscum contagiosum is a common and generally harmless condition that causes spots on the skin. It is most common in children and adolescents, but it can affect adults too. The condition tends to be more common and extensive in adults who suffer from atopic eczema. Sometimes people whose immune system is severely weakened due to a severe illness (such as HIV) or taking immunosuppressive treatment (such as chemotherapy) are more at risk of developing molluscum contagiosum.

Molluscum often disappears within 18 months of its own accord. However, the problem can take longer to clear as during this time new spots may develop while old spots are fading. This can make adults feel highly embarrassed or self-conscious about their condition. It can also affect daily life and interactions with children, partner and friends.

What does molluscum look like in adults?

Molluscum bumps in adults are often between two mm and six mm in diameter, but they can grow larger, up to 10mm to 20mm. There are typically less than 20 molluscum bumps on the body, however, in some rare instances, people have reported over 100 bumps.

How is molluscum contagiosum diagnosed in adults?

Any strange bumps on the skin should be examined by a healthcare provider, particularly if they appear in the genital area. Your GP or local sexual health clinic should be able to diagnose a molluscum infection based on a physical examination. Sometimes a biopsy of the bumps is necessary. This generally involves them being removed using a small scalpel.

AL/3775h/05.19/0.001. Date of preparation: May 2019