Download a fact sheet (PDF):
Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a harmless skin infection caused by a virus. If left untreated, MC can persist for 6 - 18 months before going away on its own.
MC is spread by skin-to-skin contact. In adults, this usually occurs during sexual contact.
MC initially appears as painless firm, round, flesh-coloured lumps with a central dimple.
If a lump is scratched or injured, MC can spread to the surrounding skin. The lumps can take several weeks to grow and usually appear on the thighs, groin, buttocks, lower abdomen and the genital area.
From the time of infection, it usually takes 2 - 3 months for the lumps to appear but this may vary from as little as one week to as long as 6 months. Some people never get any lumps at all.
MC is diagnosed by a doctor looking at the lumps. MC has a distinctive appearance.
Although the lumps usually disappear on their own, most people prefer to be treated.
Treatment can involve:
You should avoid genital hair shaving, waxing and trimming during any treatments to minimise the risk of spreading MC.
Using a condom or dam during sex is the best way to protect yourself from MC.
This fact sheet provides general sexual health information and is not intended to replace the need for a consultation with your doctor.
If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your doctor.
If you require urgent care, you should go to your nearest Emergency Department or call 000.