Lumps, moles that come and go – could they be HIV related bumps?

Can an adult get Molluscum contagiosum and be healthy otherwise? I am not sexually active but my husband was in the hospital and a nursing home for 2 months after being in ICU of pneumonia so I am wondering if I caught it in one of those facilities, all I read is those words HIV if one gets it as an adult unless sexually active. They come and go and are very small on legs, two on the face and some on torso and fingers. I think I am also spreading them myself, ugh! Do I have to stay away from my 10 year old granddaughter or wear rubber gloves ?? PS I have not seen a dermatologist yet.

We get a surprising number of questions like yours on our site  –  so thank you for reminding me to address this. For readers who don’t know, Molluscum contagiosum is an infection that is marked by smooth white or flesh-colored bumps on the skin.

Back to the question: I’ll give you the bad news first and then the good news!

A warning against self diagnosis of lumps, moles and bumps:

Trying to self diagnose these is really tough and I really don’t recommend it! There honestly is a long list – over 30 things – that can cause bumps on the skin which is one reason why dermatologists have to train for 3 more years after an internship or residency in something else, more here. I did internal medicine for 3 years and took those boards, and then did 3 more years of derm and took those boards. A lot of derms do pediatrics first, or even surgery because we all do a lot of skin cancer surgery.

Anyway, the point is that it can take a while to learn all this stuff. Your primary care doc would be a good place to start. Basic things like warts, moles, lipomas, molluscum etc. can often be accurately diagnosed and treated by a good primary care doc or midlevel provider like a PA-C or ARNP.

Are they HIV related bumps? More likely warts

To reassure you, these little bumps are not likely to be HIV related. Statistically and generally, these are far more likely to be a type of wart in an adult (more on at-home treatment of these here). Children are much more likely to get molluscum and many adults already have antibodies to it.  🙂

Warts are interesting (I think) because there are over 200 different subspecies. The wart virus that causes genital warts or is linked to cervical cancer is not the same subtype that causes warts on the fingers or little flat warts that are often on the legs.

Two tips about lumps or bumps that could be warts:

  • Never shave over possible warts because they can spread by shaving
  • Don’t pick at them –  they can get under the nails and be SO difficult to get rid of

Hope this helps,  Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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