Baby Hints & Tips

Molluscum contagiosum (water warts)

There has been a few recent outbreaks of molluscum contagiosum, also known as water warts,  so we thought it was timely to provide some information on what it is, how it is caught and how to manage it. 

Molluscum contagiosum

*Image supplied by a Baby Hints and Tips community member

What is molluscum contagiosum.

Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a virus that occurs commonly in children and in people with low immunity.  It causes small raised lesions on the skin.

How is molluscum contagiosum spread?

MC is only transmitted from human to human.  It is spread by skin to skin contact.  It is also spread by sponges, baths and swimming pools use.  After contact with the virus it may take between 1 week and 6 months to develop (usually 2-6 weeks).

What does molluscum contagiosum look like?

Contagiosum Molluscum lesions * Image supplied by a Baby Hints and Tips community member

Dome shaped firm papules, or skin coloured growths, occur on the skin.  They are 2 to 5 mm in diameter and have a shiny surface with a dent in the middle.
They are sometimes, not always itchy and may become inflamed.

It can occur anywhere on the body, except the palms and soles.  The most common areas affected are the trunk, armpits, below the elbow, behind the knee and groin.

Other effects

Molluscum dermatitis is a eczema patch or plaque around the MC lesions and can commonly occur.

Treatment of molluscum contagiosum

In a person with a healthy immune system the lesions will usually heal with no intervention within 2 months, generally with no scarring.  And the infection will usually clear within 6 to 12 months.

Treatment may be considered because of the look of the lesions or to prevent spread to other areas of the body, siblings and playmates.  Treatment should be discussed with your doctor.  Options include freezing the growths, a doctor scraping the growths and some medication that can be applied.

A more mild treatment option suggested by Royal Children’s hospital is “tape stripping”.  Cover the spots for a 2 days with duct tape or Elastoplast and then pull off.  Repeat a few times if needed to remove the “central core” of the lesion.  Bandaids will not work as the adhesive part of the tape needs to cover the spots.

Preventing spread of molloscum contagiosum

It is not necessary to keep children home from school or daycare, however lesions likely to come in contact with other should be covered with clothing or a watertight bandage.  Avoid bathing together and do not allow children to share towels or sponges.

Molluscum contagiosum in pregnancy is not common and not well documented.  If lesions were in the genital region then there is a potential risk these could transit to the newborn. It is suggested that the lack of this condition in children under the age of 1 may mean there is some protection given from the mother to the unborn child.

Make sure you:

  • Avoid baths.  Have a shower as the molloscum virus may spread in the bath to other parts of the body.
  • Dry children who have molluscum carefully.  Use the towel on the effected areas last to avoid spreading the virus.
  • DO NOT share baths, towels, face washers, cloths with a child who has molloscum contagiosum
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after touching the molloscum lesions

Community Tips for treating molluscum contagiosum

Try Wheat Grass Spray

Wheat grass spray cleared up molluscum contagiosum completely for my daughter.  She wouldn’t let me put anything on them, but tolerated the spray.  Its just cold. Nic

We swear by Dr Wheatgrass. A quick spray each day and gone in no time! Fiona


Pinetarsol works wonders on this. It went through 3 out of 4 of my children and also my sisters children. She discovered that pinetarsol baths seemed to make it rapidly disappear, and so I tried it with my first ( who has lingered with it for a while,) and she recovered within a week… then my others were only present for a few days…with their outbreaks. Jo

Pop them

My kids had them doc said to pop them ( she gave me pin needles) but only in the shower so they can wash away you need to make sure the core ( white bit) is out and then it will bleed a little then put a bandaid on it! I have also heard duct tape over it for a couple of day will agrivate it to the top so when you pull it off it should pull the core out good luck. Justine

My son had them everywhere. Finally saw a different doctor (after many saying you cant do anything) and he said you need to squeeze them to get the tiny white head out. Once you start getting them the immune system will fight it off. We spent a bit of time morning and night squeezing. How much he could handle. Once all squeezed it cleared up and hasnt come back. Make sure you get the white head out and dont wipe it on any other skin, it will spread. Does bleed a bit so have a lot of clean tissues.  No scarring. Karen

Be careful if you decide to squeeze them, I took that advice and it worked but left scars. Leonie

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar dab it on with cotton wool twice a day. Mandy

Cover them

My daughter was also covered and I was told the same thing. My sister in-law suggested covering and keep them covered until the go “yuck” or fester……I used clear opsite tape. It takes about a week or two of keeping the cover on (all day all night!! If it comes off cover again straight away) once the go “yuck” remove covers and let heal. It took a couple gos to get them all but it worked. They say when you aggravate them like this the body goes to work to fight the virus. Hope this helps!!! Lauren

Other rashes

Information on other viral rashes in your baby.


Uptodate. Patient education: Molluscum contagiosum (Beyond the Basics)

Royal Children’s Hospital


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