Molluscum contagiosum is a harmless skin infection caused by a virus belonging to the poxvirus family.
Molluscum is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact, scratching the bumps, or through sexual contact. The infection can spread from one part of the body to another, or to other people.
The virus invades the skin causing the appearance of firm, smooth, shiny, pinkish-white bumps which have a dip in the middle and a milky-white liquid inside. The bumps can appear anywhere on the body from several weeks to several months after contact with the virus.
However, when sexually transmitted, the bumps are usually found on the external genitals, abdomen, groin, buttocks, and thighs. The bumps often remain unchanged for many months, but they usually go away without treatment in two to six months.
A healthcare provider can tell you if you have molluscum by visual inspection of the bumps.
Treatment is done for aesthetic reasons and to prevent giving the infection to someone else. The bumps can be treated effectively with liquid nitrogen. Even if treated, molluscum can reappear and treatment may need to be repeated.
The use of condoms lowers the chance of contracting molluscum through sexual contact. Trying not to scratch or squeeze the bumps and proper hand-washing are good practices for preventing direct contact transmission.