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A Blog from Your Kaiser Permanente Pediatricians in Northern California

Girl holding frog in her hand

Warts and Molluscum: Things That Make Your Skin Go Bump

They aren’t scary enough to lose sleep over, but warts and molluscum do make your skin go bump in the night! Daytime too. Both are caused by viruses (not kissing frogs or toads) that infect your skin and make it grow a little bump. 

They go away eventually, even if not treated. Both are benign – and don’t hurt your child.

Molluscum contagiosum

Despite the scary-sounding name, molluscum is anything but. It forms small, round, painless bumps on the skin. The bumps can look pearly and dented in the middle, and they may itch.

They’re only mildly contagious – but scratching can spread it to new areas, so encourage kids not to scratch or pick at them.

Warts

There are several kinds of warts. The most common form that kids get are small, grey-brown bumps where the skin looks a bit like the surface of a cauliflower. Sometimes they have black dots (these aren’t “seeds” but the blood supply to the wart).

Often, you’ll find them on hands and feet, and they can be uncomfortable to walk on or make it hard to hold a pencil comfortably.

Pediatricians spend a lot of time trying to talk parents out of treating molluscum and warts because they go away on their own, usually within 6 to 24 months. Treatments are aimed at killing the skin that has the virus – so this can hurt and scar. We do recommend treatment if the growths are spreading, or causing pain or embarrassment for your child.

So the moral of this story is – don’t be afraid of these bumps. Warts and molluscum are harmless nuisances that often require no treatment at all.

If you decide to treat, check in with your pediatrician first. Schedule a video visit with them or send an email with photos so they can confirm the diagnosis and discuss treatment options.

Find more resources for parents:
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