Molloscum contagiosum is not caused by the human papillomavirus, but molloscum and HPV genital warts are similar in some ways. Both are caused by viruses and transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, and both can be transmitted sexually. Their appearances and presentations are different to a medically trained eye, but many patients who present for medical care with the belief that they have genital warts actually have molluscum contagiosum.

Why Unusual:

When I was choosing the topic for this page, I felt the “unusual” word would be the best description for this STD.

Years ago I had a female patient who presented with having rash on her genital that she has been trying to treat for more than one year without success.

She was treated by her dermatologist for hair follicle infection on her genital and have tried multiple cream but her condition continue worsen in condition. Being desperate she tried laser and hair removal but got significant redness and inflammation. At first glance I was moved by her advance inflammation and redness , but with little attention I realized she indeed had molluscum contagiosum, and it was then that we had explanation of why she is having extensive irritation.

Molluscum contagiosum is hard to diagnose if you are not experienced enough,

It resembles, acne , pimple, rash, hair follicle infection and many other small rashes. If you take a wrong turn on treatment pathway then it will get out of controlled and unsightly.

However, It has certain characteristics that could be easily diagnosed and treated, but you need to have trained and experienced clinician eye and hand.

What is Molluscum Contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by the molluscipox virus and produces clusters of small, noncancerous skin tumors. It is generally thought to infect only humans, but there have been some cases of molluscum contagiosum among pigeons, chickens, dogs, horses, chimpanzees, and kangaroos. People with compromised immune systems are more likely to contract this condition.

Molluscum and HIV/AIDS

A compromised immune system is a risk factor for molloscum, so it is recommended that anyone who develops this condition also be tested for HIV (which causes suppression of the immune system).


Molluscum infection causes small white, pink, or flesh-colored growths with a pit in the center. The bumps are usually firm and smooth, and can develop anywhere on the body. They may become red, sore, and swollen, but usually produce no discomfort. When manipulated, they may cause redness around the affected area. If the patient has an underlying illness such as HIV, they may increase in size.


The Difference Between Molluscum and Genital Warts


Molluscum Contagiosom Genital Anal Warts
round mostly symmetricle
Papular, Usually irregular , Cauliflower like
Usually one color, red come is different colors, brown, red, light or dark
~ 1-4mm ~ 1-100mm
Soft, cheesey core substance
“The Difference Between Molluscum and Genital Warts,” copyrightprotected, all rights reserved. Intellectual property. Siavash Arani, M.D.

Transmission & Infection

People with molloscum can cause spread of the growths to other areas of their bodies by touching or scratching the growth and then touching another part of the body. This is called autoinoculation. The virus can also be spread from person to person in a few ways: through another person’s skin coming in contact with the growths, through another person touching objects such as towels, clothing, or toys that have the virus on them, and through sexual contact with infected skin.


Patients are strongly warned against self-treatment with non-FDA-approved products (creams, remedies, oils, homemade medications, etc.) that may be available for molloscum. Some products and manufacturers claim to be “FDA-compliant” or “an FDA-registered manufacturer” among others, but this does not mean the product is FDA-approved for treatment of molluscum. In fact, some products may exacerbate the condition. Many patients fall victim to these marketing strategies and it is strongly advised that patients not use these products, but instead seek the treatment of an experienced physician.

Molluscum Contagiosum is sexually transmitted disease and must be treated by an experience physician for successfull removal with minimal dyscoloration and scar.

Prevention of Viral Transmission (Spreading)

Keep the affected area clean. Until the area is treated, it may be covered with a clean cloth or bandage so it does not spread to other areas of the body or to other people.

Image courtesy Edie Lederman


CDC (Center of Disease Control warning against internet treatment remedies for molluscum follows)

"Should I try to remove the bumps caused by molluscum? "

It is not a good idea to try to remove the molluscum growths or to get rid of the fluid inside them yourself.

Be aware that some treatments available through the internet are not effective and may even be harmful!

There are three important reasons not to treat the bumps without seeing a doctor first.

  1. The treatment may be painful.
  2. You might spread the bumps to another part of your body or to another person.
  3. By scratching and scraping the skin you might cause a more serious bacterial infection. If you want to have the growths removed or treated, talk to a health care provider..."

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