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Popping Molluscum Contagiosum Core: What You Need to Know


Dr Ryan Goerig





Some people wonder if it is helpful to “pop” the molluscum bump in order for it to heal and go away faster. Popping a molluscum bump is something that you should not do.

There are many reasons for this, and it is helpful to learn about the anatomy of a molluscum bump. This will help explain why it is recommended not to pop the molluscum bump.

The molluscum contagiosum core virus remains in the top layer of skin (epidermis) and does not circulate throughout the body. Looking at a skin bump under the microscope, most of the virus particles are packed inside a white substance in the center of the molluscum bump.


This is called the molluscum contagiosum core and is very contagious because it contains millions of virus particles.

The skin bumps caused by the molluscum virus are benign and usually resolve without scarring. However scratching at the bump, or using scraping and scooping to remove the bump, can cause scarring.


The scarring is caused because the white core actually gets released into the deeper areas of the skin when it’s manipulated. As a result, this causes inflammation in the skin. Inflammation in the skin release molecules called cytokines, which damage collagen.


Damaged collagen causing scarring. For this reason, physically removing the bump with your fingers or other instruments (tweezers or needles) is not recommended in children. Conflicting reports make it unclear whether the disease may be spread quicker by simple contact with seemingly intact bumps or if the breaking of a bump and the subsequent transferring of core material is necessary to spread the virus.


For these reasons (scarring and spreading the virus), it is not recommended to vigorously touch the molluscum bumps at any time during the infection.

Ways to Prevent Molluscum from Spreading


Avoid scratching and itching the bumps: Molluscum skin bumps are sometimes called “the bump that rashes”. This is because the immune system in the skin can recognize the virus in the bump, which can lead to a local red, itchy and flaky rash around the molluscum bump.

Even if the bump is not associated with a rash, children are known to scratch the bumps. When a child scratches the bumps, he or she can deposit millions of virus particles underneath their fingernails. Subsequent scratching on unaffected skin then gets infected with the virus, causing bumps.

This is called autoinoculation. Therefore, it is never a good idea to scratch the molluscum bumps and avoiding scratching can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to other parts of the body.


Use multiple towels to dry off: The molluscum virus is well known to survive on towels and it is well known that the virus can spread from one person to another via towels. Since it is common to share towels between children in the same household, this is one of the reasons that the virus can spread so easily from one affected child to their siblings.

It is recommended to avoid sharing towels (and wash cloths/rags) with siblings when one child has molluscum. This will reduce the risk of spreading the virus to other siblings. In addition, it is recommended to wash the towels from the affected child in separate laundry loads from towels of children that are not affected by the virus.

Wash hands: There are ways to prevent the spread of molluscum contagiosum. It is always recommended to wash hands frequently in both the child that has molluscum and the siblings that are unaffected. The best way to avoid getting molluscum is by following good hygiene habits.

Remember that the virus lives only in the skin and once the lesions are gone, the virus is gone and you cannot spread the virus to others. The best way is to follow good hygiene (cleanliness) habits. Keeping your hands clean is the best way to avoid molluscum infection, as well as many other infections.

Hand washing removes germs that may have been picked up from other people or from surfaces that have germs on them.

Take proper steps when using pool, hot tub, bath tub. Here are precautions to take:


Molluscum virus is well known


to survive (and spread) in aquatic environments. This includes jacuzzies, pools, bathtubs, water parks, and kiddie pools. The more time a child spends in one of these with an infected child, the higher the risk of contracting the virus.

It is highly recommended to avoid these activities with other children with visible molluscum infection. It should be noted that even though a child is wearing Skin Bump Gone patches, he or she is still at risk from getting the virus on unaffected skin from someone who’s bumps are not covered with Skin Bump Gone hydrogel patches.

That is why it is best to just avoid these scenarios. In addition, it is possible to get the molluscum infection twice (or more). That means that a child’s bumps can completely go away after treatment, only to reappear down the road. This means that the child was reexposed to the virus and thus reinfected.


Frequently Asked Questions About Popping Molluscum Contagiosum Core


Can you Drain Molluscum Contagiosum Core?

No, you cannot “drain” molluscum contagiosum core. Usually, skin lesions that are drained are called abscesses. Abscesses are filled with pus and are best treated when incision and drainage. Molluscum doesn’t contain pus and thus cannot be drained. The “pus” is actually a semi-solid core that is composed of millions of virus particles.


Don’t scratch or pick at molluscum lesion cores. It is important not to touch, pick, or scratch the virus core on molluscum bumps, that includes not only your own skin but anyone else’s. Picking and scratching the white core can spread the virus to other parts of the body and makes it easier to spread the disease to other people too.


What happens if you pop a molluscum bump?

Popping a molluscum bump can increase the likelihood of spreading the virus to unaffected neighboring skin. In addition, popping the molluscum causes inflammation deep in the second layer of the skin (called the dermis). This can result in damage to collagen and elastin fibers, which can and will lead to permanent scarring.

Does pus come out of molluscum?

The white part of molluscum is called the virus core, and is packed with virus particles, dead skin cells, and inflammatory cells. Technically, the inflammatory cells are also found in pus. However, usually pus contains bacteria. In molluscum, there is no bacterial infection and therefore no pus.

Does popping molluscum make it go away?

No, popping molluscum does not make it go away. This will only lead to skin scarring and an increased risk of locally spreading the virus. Molluscum bumps are relatively solid growths, whereas acne pimples are more fluid filled (and are thus easier to pop). As a side note, acne pimples do contain pus because they are filled with bacteria.


Can you pick molluscum off?

No, you cannot pick molluscum off. They are solid and a continuous part of the skin. They are firmly attached. Picking them off can often result in permanent scarring because it causes the collagen under the bump to be damaged. Therefore, picking at molluscum is definitely not recommended.


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