How Is Molluscum Contagiosum Different From Warts?

Molluscum contagiosum and warts are so similar in appearance that they are even sometimes confused by medical professionals! Although the two conditions have many things in common, there are a number of differences that set them apart.

Condition Similarities

Blemishes on skin

Both molluscum contagiosum and warts are caused by a DNA virus: the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) and the human papillomavirus (HPV), respectively. Luckily, another similarity they have is that they are both generally benign. Damage to either of the conditions (such as scratching, shaving, or otherwise breaking the skin) can lead to them spreading. Additionally, they can both be spread by skin-to-skin contact, despite a common wart myth that they aren’t contagious. Also, both can lead to scarring, which may require cosmetic services to address.

The Notable Differences

Although warts are caused by the common virus HPV that can also be transmitted sexually, molluscum contagiosum warts are caused by a virus related to smallpox. While warts often appear on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, molluscum lesions can occur anywhere on the body. While HPV has been linked to several types of cancer, namely cervical cancer, the MCV virus that causes molluscum contagiosum does not have such associations. This means that unlike with molluscum contagiosum, wart treatment can involve chemotherapy. Another main difference is the time at which the outbreak disappears: when molluscum contagiosum lesions and papules disappear, the virus has left the body, but the HPV virus remains present even after the warts have vanished.

Differences in Assessment

The assessment and treatment of molluscum contagiosum and warts often overlap, but there are differences here as well. Warts can be either defined or flat, round or “carpeted.” However, molluscum contagiosum papules often have a uniform, very round appearance. They are generally between 2 and 5mm in diameter, with a dimple in the center and a white core that can be squeezed out.

Although many professionals confuse warts with molluscum contagiosum, we at The Dermatology Clinic are familiar with the assessment and treatment of each condition. For more information about the HPV or MCV virus or any other skin condition, schedule an appointment with us today.


Both of my younger boys have this now…ages 5 and 7 and with the healthcare issues I am not going to take them to the doctor but need to treat. I am familiar with them my older two children had years ago. My concern is the spreading of them as they are itching. How should I treat at home?


    Hello. I’ve forwarded your message to our nursing staff. Someone will contact you via email.


I have a 1 year old that had mollescum on her belly but they r going away slowly now with out treatment. And I have a 4 year old that has on her face flesh colored spots which her pediatrician thinks it’s mollescum but I don’t think it is because it doesn’t have dimples in the center but it is spreading to different areas on her face. I actually went to dermatologist for myself and was diagnosed with flat warts on my face so can she just have warts? My question is how can I treat my 4 year old at home because she keeps itching and it’s spreading? The dermatologist will not see my 4 year old in office because of the health crisis


    We are currently seeing patients in our office. Please call 225-769-7546 to schedule a visit with one of our dermatologists.


Hello, My son is 1 year 21 months old.. he has some bumps on his face neck and armpits.. some on his eyelids and around eye area.. we checked with his pediatrician and she said like that might be either molluscum or milia.. and she was asked me to see a dermatologist.. please kindly advise on this and suggest me some home treatment for this


    We would recommend seeing one of our board certified dermatologists. You can call 225-769-7546 to schedule an appointment.


My son has wart and will like to help with that.


    I would recommend an appointment with one of our dermatologists. To schedule, call 225-769-7546.


my son is 12 years old and the Dr. diagnosis with Molluscum contagious , he had it on his back of the neck and back i don’t know what to do the pediatritian didn’t prescribe no medicine . but he is complaining on itching .


    We’ve sent you an email!


I’m 23 with Molluscum pls help


    Molluscum can occur in both adults and children. However, there are many conditions that can mimic molluscum. We would recommend getting an in-person evaluation with one of our board certified dermatologists to confirm and treat.

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