Learn About Molluscum

What is molluscum?

Molluscum contagiosum, or molluscum, is a highly contagious, viral skin disease caused by a poxvirus.

When you see the word “pox,” most people think of chicken pox—but there are many poxviruses, and molluscum is one of them. Poxviruses are very good at spreading quickly from person to person.

Molluscum is highly contagious and can easily spread through direct contact with molluscum bumps and by sharing objects like:

Dirty laundry

Dirty laundry

Towels and bathing sponges

Towels and

bathing sponges

Pool equipment

Sports and
pool equipment



Dirty laundry

Dirty laundry

Towels and bathing sponges

Towels and

bathing sponges

Pool equipment

Sports and
pool equipment



It usually takes 2 to 6 weeks after exposure for the bumps to appear. Though adults can become infected, it primarily affects children.


Close to 1 million cases
of molluscum
diagnosed each year


How is

Every patient is different, but there are some common ways to spot molluscum.

The bumps can present differently in each person but are typically small, white, or skin-colored, usually with a dimpled center, and can vary in size from a pinpoint to a pencil eraser. Occasionally, they can become inflamed, red, itchy, and painful. In children, the bumps are most commonly seen on the arms, legs, and face and can also form clusters.

Most children have 10 to 30 bumps. Sometimes children may have more than 100 bumps.

photo1 photo2 photo3 photo4 photo5

Images taken from clinical trials. Photos are not
representative of all patients.

How long can molluscum last?

In some patients, molluscum can
last up to 5 years.

When left untreated, symptoms can last an average of 13 months but could persist for
5 years. There can also be a risk of prolonged complications. People with eczema are at
higher risk for infection and more symptoms,
as well as larger, more numerous, and more widespread lesions.

hand with bumps

Photos are not representative of all patients.

Why should molluscum be treated?

It can be hard to see a child itching or embarrassed by their bumps.
A dermatologist can help.

Some of the main reasons to treat molluscum include

  • Keeping the bumps from growing, spreading, and becoming more numerous, which can lead to itching, pain, and infection
  • Reducing the risk of spreading the bumps to other parts of your child’s body—or to other people through personal contact or contact with infected objects
Other skin conditions, such as eczema, can cause a higher risk for developing more widespread and prolonged molluscum.

When should molluscum be treated?

As soon as bumps can be seen, they can be treated.

Treating molluscum early can:

  • Help prevent making other medical conditions worse, like atopic dermatitis, eczema, and bacterial infections
  • Reduce discomfort and itching
  • Lower the risk of scarring
  • Help prevent social exclusion and bullying
  • Potentially alleviate anxiety for children and their guardians

More than half of patients
or parents
household spread


Do you think you have what it takes to spot molluscum?

Try our molluscum quiz arrow
my towel

Skin rash?
Viral disease?

Download our Molluscum Guide to help
free your family from the bumps.


YCANTH (cantharidin) topical solution, 0.7% is indicated for the topical treatment of molluscum contagiosum in adult and pediatric patients 2 years of age and older.


What warnings should I know about YCANTH?

  • Do not get YCANTH in the mouth, nose, or eyes, and do not let YCANTH touch healthy skin. Life threatening or fatal toxicities can occur if YCANTH is taken by mouth. Avoid contact with areas of the body that have been treated, including contact by mouth. Damage to the eyes can occur if YCANTH comes in contact with the eyes. If YCANTH gets in the eyes, rinse eyes with water for at least 15 minutes.

  • Local skin side effects at the application site may occur, including blistering, itching, pain, discoloration, and redness. Do not get YCANTH in the mouth, nose, or eyes, and do not let YCANTH touch healthy skin. If YCANTH contacts any unintended surface or healthy skin, immediately remove. If severe blistering, severe pain, or other severe skin side effects occur, wash off YCANTH immediately and contact your healthcare provider.

  • YCANTH is flammable, even after drying. Do not expose YCANTH-treated areas to fire, flame, or smoke until YCANTH is washed off.

  • Do not use YCANTH if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in YCANTH. The active ingredient in YCANTH is cantharidin. The inactive ingredients are acetone, camphor, castor oil, denatonium benzoate, ethanol, gentian violet, hydroxypropyl cellulose, and nitrocellulose.

What are the possible side effects of YCANTH?

The most common side effects are local skin side effects at the application site, including blistering, pain, itching, scabbing, redness, discoloration, dryness, swelling, and loss of the outer layer of skin at the application site. These local skin side effects are expected and are related to the anticipated blistering caused by YCANTH.

Do other medications interact with YCANTH?

It is not currently known if any medications interact with YCANTH.

Can I use YCANTH if I’m pregnant?

The potential risk of YCANTH for major birth defects, miscarriage, or maternal or fetal side effects is unknown. Given that YCANTH is applied to the outside of the mother’s skin, use is not expected to result in exposure of YCANTH to unborn babies.

Can I use YCANTH if I’m breastfeeding?

Do not use YCANTH on areas of the mother’s body where YCANTH may come in contact with the breastfeeding child’s mouth or eyes.

What should I do if YCANTH is swallowed?

Taking cantharidin by mouth has resulted in kidney failure, blistering and severe damage to the stomach and intestines, excessive bleeding or clotting, seizures, and weakness or paralysis. Seek medical attention immediately if YCANTH is accidentally ingested.

These are not all the possible side effects of YCANTH. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You are encouraged to report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. You may also report side effects to Verrica Pharmaceuticals Inc. at 1-877-VERRICA (1-877-837-7422). Local skin side effects are expected and should be reported if they are severe.

Please see full Prescribing Information.