Molluscum Contagiosum Vs Genital Warts: What’s the Difference?

Molluscum Contagiosum Vs Genital Warts: What’s the Difference?

The question of molluscum contagiosum vs genital warts is a very common one. Many people confuse genital warts with bumps or lesions of mollusca, and vice versa. This is because the two conditions can seem similar in appearance. While both are contagious infections, they are caused by different viruses.

To differentiate one condition from the other, read on this article.

What Is Molluscum Contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by the M. contagiosum virus and known as mollusca. This is one of the most common infections among children. Usually, molluscum contagiosum causes a mild rash on the upper layers of your skin. The rash appears with one or more benign raised bumps that may look like warts. The bumps are usually painless and they can be pink, white, or skin-colored. In most cases, the bumps have indentations in the center. Molluscum contagiosum most commonly occurs on the face, chest, arms, or legs. In sexually active people, it can be found in the genitals, groin, or buttocks.

Children between 1 and 12 years old are most at risk of molluscum contagiosum. However, the infection can also affect:

  • people who usually have close skin-to-skin contact, such as wrestlers, or football players
  • people who have weakened immune systems due to certain medications, HIV or cancer treatment

According to doctors, the M. contagiosum virus belongs to the poxvirus family. It thrives in warm, humid areas where people are usually in close contact. The virus may enter the body through small cuts on the surface layers of your skin. In many cases, molluscum contagiosum show up bumps 2 to 7 weeks after infection. But sometimes, the body fights off the virus and you may not develop any growths.

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is contagious. You can get the infection in many different ways, such as:

  • Touching the bumps on the skin of someone who has this infection.
  • Sharing clothing, towels, toys or other items with an infected person.

You can also spread the bumps to other areas of your body. This occurs when you touch or scratch the bump and then touch another part of your body.

A doctor can diagnose the infection by looking at your rash. To confirm the diagnosis, they will recommend a skin scraping or biopsy. If it’s not mollusca, they might refer you to a dermatologist to find out the cause of your bumps.

Molluscum contagiosum can resolve on its own without treatment. But this can take very long about 2-3 months and cause recurrence. There are a few options to remove the bumps more quickly, such as:

  • curettage (the doctor uses a small tool to pierce the bump and scrape it off the skin)
  • topical therapy (salicylic acid)
  • cryotherapy (the doctor uses liquid nitrogen to freeze off the bump)
  • laser therapy (the doctor uses a laser to burn and destroy the bump)

Here are 7 Types of Bumps You Should Never Try to Pop

What Are Genital Warts?

Genital warts are one of the most common STDs in the United States. It is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and can show up on the skin of your genital or anal areas. There are many different strains of HPV. They are usually harmless and only some of them can cause genital warts, for example HPV 6 and 11. In some cases, HPV can lead to cancer such as vaginal, penile, vulvar or cervical cancer.

Most people with HPV do not have any symptoms. But genital warts can sometimes show up several weeks to months after infection. The warts can appear alone or in groups. They are usually painless and can vary in size and appearance. In most cases, the warts occur on the vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, scrotum, rectum or anus. They can look red, pink, white, or skin-colored and resemble a cauliflower. Other symptoms related to genital warts include itching, bleeding, discharge and irritation.

Genital warts

Genital warts are very contagious. You can get this infection from skin-to-skin contact, including:

  • genital touching
  • sexual activity such as oral, vaginal and anal sex
  • direct contact with wet surfaces that carry the virus
  • using the same towels, sex toys or other items with an infected person
  • pregnancy (a mother can pass HPV on to her child during vaginal childbirth)

It is very hard to diagnose genital warts as they are easily confused with some skin conditions.  Mollusca and herpes are typical examples. If you think that you have genital warts, speak to your doctor. Pap tests and HPV tests can help identify the virus.

Without treatment, genital warts can go away on their own, but the HPV is incurable. Here are a few treatment options for genital warts.

  • Some of the most common genital wart creams are Vidarox, Aldara, and Veregen. According to many patients, Vidarox works best as the cream is made with antiviral nanomedicine and essential oils. It usually takes 1 to 2 weeks for this cream to clear genital warts.
  • They include cryotherapy, laser or loop electrosurgical excision.

Here’s How Genital Warts Can Spread to Other Areas of Your Body

Molluscum Contagiosum Vs Genital Warts

Now you may have probably known what molluscum contagiosum vs genital warts are. Each condition is caused by a different virus. While genital warts are caused HPV, molluscum contagiosum results from the M. contagiosum virus. There is no cure for genital warts or molluscum contagiosum. However, treatment options are available for both.

Molluscum contagiosum vs genital warts are incurable infections. However, you can reduce the physical symptoms with medications and surgeries. In both cases, the only way to make sure if you have either virus is to get tested regularly. In addition, you can reduce your risk of catching the conditions by following some tips as below:

  • Always keep your private parts dry, clean and fresh
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Don’t shave
  • Do not touch, scratch, or rub the bump
  • Avoid direct contact with abnormal bumps
  • Avoid sharing personal items with others
  • Practice safe sex
  • Use condoms and avoid oral sex

Here are 6 Reasons You Have Bumps “Down There”


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