The epidemiology of molluscum contagiosum in children

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006 Jan;54(1):47-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2005.08.035. Epub 2005 Nov 21.


Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a viral disorder of the skin and mucous membranes characterized by discrete single or multiple, flesh-colored papules. Although MC as a clinical entity is well defined and commonly observed, few data regarding its epidemiology in the pediatric population exist. Our purpose was to collect epidemiologic data on children with MC with regard to age, gender, ethnicity, degree of involvement, relation to pre-existing atopic dermatitis (AD), and immune status. A retrospective chart review was conducted. All subjects were seen at 3 tertiary pediatric dermatology referral centers with two of the sites based at a Children's Hospital. A total of 302 patient charts with the Current Procedural Terminology code diagnosis of MC seen over a 6- to 8-month period were reviewed. Approximately 80% of the patients were younger than 8 years old. The majority of patients (63%) had more than 15 lesions. All but one patient were otherwise healthy, as determined by history and clinical examination. Approximately 24% of the patients presented with a history of previous or active coexistent AD. However, children with AD were at risk for an increased number of lesions. These data provide valuable updated information on the demographics and clinical presentation of MC in pediatric patients in the United States. Limitations include that this was a retrospective study with a population limited to tertiary pediatric dermatology referral centers.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiopathology
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Molluscum Contagiosum / complications
  • Molluscum Contagiosum / epidemiology*
  • Molluscum Contagiosum / immunology
  • Molluscum Contagiosum / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States / epidemiology