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Don’t Use Products Marketed to Treat Molluscum, a Common Skin Condition

Left photo of doctor talking to child patient with mother. Right photo of child washing hands wearing long sleeve shirt.


If you’re bothered by bumps on your skin, don’t try to diagnose yourself or treat your condition with products that haven’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Instead, visit a health care professional for a proper diagnosis and to make a treatment plan.

One common condition that some people try to self-diagnose and treat is molluscum contagiosum, a skin infection caused by a virus. But by doing so, you run the risk of delaying the diagnosis and treatment of a potentially serious condition. And you might do more harm than good.

The FDA has not approved any prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter, or OTC) products for the treatment of molluscum.

Symptoms and Causes of Molluscum

Molluscum, also called water warts, is a viral infection that can cause white, pink or flesh-colored bumps. These growths can happen alone or in groups almost anywhere on the skin, including the face, neck, arms, legs, abdomen and genital area. The bumps are rarely on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.

Sometimes the bumps itch and get irritated. People with a weakened immune system may have larger or more bumps. If you don’t have the condition evaluated by a health care professional, you might not find out if the bumps are molluscum or a symptom of another skin ailment.

Molluscum is an infection common in children, although teens and adults can also get it. Molluscum is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact, and by sharing clothes or infected objects such as sports equipment. Good hygiene (cleanliness), including washing your hands and keeping them clean, is the best way to avoid getting molluscum.

Molluscum eventually goes away on its own without treatment, usually in six to 12 months. Although in some people it can take up to five years.

If you have molluscum, a skin doctor (dermatologist) or other health care professional can evaluate your symptoms and recommend ways to manage your condition.

There Are No FDA-Approved Products to Treat Molluscum

Do not use products that claim to treat molluscum, even if they say they are “FDA-approved” or “made in an FDA facility.” There are no FDA-approved products to treat molluscum.

It’s likely that unapproved products marketed to treat molluscum do not do what they claim, and the ingredients in them could cause adverse effects (bad reactions). The FDA has received reports of side effects in children and adults associated with some of these products, including skin reddening, abrasion from skin scratching, and permanent scarring.

Many unapproved products claiming to treat molluscum contain essential oils. Even natural substances, such as essential oils, may cause an allergic reaction or irritate sensitive skin.

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