Molluscum contagiosum (MC)

Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a viral skin infection, passed on through genital skin contact or other forms of close skin contact. In most cases, MC will go away within 18 months without the need for treatment.

What is it?

Molluscum contagiosum (MC for short) is a viral skin infection.

How do I catch it?

The MC virus is passed from person to person through close skin contact, such as genital skin contact.

What symptoms could I have?

There is usually only one symptom of MC- the appearance of abnormal patches or small spots on the skin. In sexually active adults, these spots usually appear on the groin area and spread towards the pubic and tummy area, inner thighs and genitals.

The spots are usually painless, raised and firm. You might notice that some of the spots have a tiny grey head in the centre and look pearly. The head might split, causing a thick yellowy-white substance to escape. This substance is highly infections so never squeeze or handle the spots, and don’t shave the skin in that area, as the infection could be spread to other parts of the body.

The spots don’t usually leave scars but each one might leave a tiny pitted mark or patch of lighter skin.

How do you test for it?

You can use the service finder to find a testing service near you.

How do you treat it?

MC will clear up within 18 months without the need for treatment in most cases. However, you will usually be offered treatment if you are likely to pass on the infection to sexual partners. MC can be treated with creams or cryotherapy (freezing) with liquid nitrogen if necessary.