Molluscum is a skin infection caused by a virus.

When you have molluscum you get very small raised spots or bumps on your skin. You can get molluscum through having sex, although you can get it in other ways as well. Molluscum is caused by a virus.

You can get rid of the spots. The virus that causes molluscum stays in your body and lives quietly in most people. People live with the virus in their body and it does not cause any health problems.

Both men and women can get molluscum. Usually the spots are painless but they can itch sometimes. If you scratch them they can get infected.

Signs or symptoms

The symptoms are the same in both men and women.

You can get very small spots:

  • On and around your genitals (penis or vagina).
  • On your bottom.
  • On the tops of your legs.

You can get a few spots first, then more sometimes appear. Sometimes you can get the spots on other parts of the body, like your face. Sometimes the spots may go away within a few months without treatment. They can stay longer if they are not treated.

Getting it

You can catch molluscum from:

  • Having vaginal, anal and oral sex with someone who has molluscum.
  • Rubbing very closely against another.
  • Scratch any skin with bumps or blisters (yours or someone else’s).

You can have the virus that causes molluscum and not know you have it.

If you think you may have molluscum, contact your local sexual health (GUM) clinic and make an appointment. It’s easy and completely confidential.

For more information on sexual health (including HIV), call the Sexual Health Line free (from the UK) on 0800 567 123, textphone (for people with hearing impairments) 0800 521 361 or phone your local NHS sexual health clinic.