Molluscum contagiosum is a common viral illness of childhood and is increasingly found as a sexually transmitted disease in sexually active young adults. Current treatment options are invasive, requiring tissue destruction and attendant discomfort. Thirty-one children (mean age 4.6 +/- 2.1 years) with the diagnosis of molluscum contagiosum (mean length of time with condition 8.6 +/- 5.3 months) were treated with once daily topical application of a 10% solution (v/v) of essential oil of Australian lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) or vehicle (olive oil). At the end of 21 days, there was greater than 90% reduction in the number of lesions in 9/16 children treated with lemon myrtle oil, while 0/16 children met the same criteria for improvement in the vehicle group (P < 0.05). No adverse events were reported.