And yes, we got it. Lame.
It's caused by a poxvirus and can stick around for quite a while. Each bump lasts from about 6-12 weeks, but more pop up, so an infection tends to last from 8 months to two years. It can be much longer, especially in those with suppressed immune systems.
The first time I noticed anything was when a pimple-like thing on my son's arm didn't clear up within the expected few days. It didn't look quite right. It reminded me a little of a chicken pox blister, but the symptoms weren't right for that either; there was no fever or anything. Just about the time the blister finally disappeared, his younger sister had some unusual-looking bumps pop up under her arm. Then they grew a little and spread to her torso, back, and under the other arm. About that time I spent some time online trying to discover what this was and how to get rid of it. If you want to get our solution without reading a bunch more, skip down to the bottom of this. :)
Each bump or blister is roughly shaped like a pearl, from 1/8" wide up to the size of a marble, and typically has a dimpled center. If you pinch it off, a white waxy core often comes out with it, and the exposed spot will bleed more than you expect from such a tiny hole. The core has the virus, which is just in the skin, so it can't stay dormant somewhere in your system. When it's gone, it's gone unless you pick up an infection somewhere else. It's most common in children under 10, but anyone can get it, and there's no permanent immunity.
It spreads through skin-to-skin contact, even things like shared clothing or towels, which is probably why three of my children got it. Things that make it worse include scratching, moisture (warm places on the body or long soaks in the tub), a ruptured lesion touching another area, or not washing hands after touching or scratching these.
I thought maybe they'd clear up on their own, but after 5 weeks had had enough of that, as they continued to spread. I found all kinds of ideas online to get rid of them:
twice-daily applications of tea tree oil or apple cider vinegar (both burn a little if undiluted), salicylic acid, prescription-only chemicals that destroy the top layers of the bumps, liquid nitrogen followed with scraping. Maybe different things work for different people.
It turned out that at least 5 families in my neighborhood had children with molluscum, so us moms put our heads together to talk about what we'd each tried.
One mom had the answer, and it wasn't any of the above. She'd gone to the doctor (all the moms who did thought the cure was worse than the disease- if the cure even worked. Which it didn't for most of them.)- paid $80 for a prescription cream, and the cream didn't clear it up, even after weeks. She finally got on her knees and essentially said, "Lord, I know YOU know how to solve this; please let me know how to help my children."
The idea came to her to put olive oil on them. So she pinched off all the blisters, being sure to remove the center with the virus. Then she rubbed olive oil on all the spots at least twice a day, 3 or 4 times a day when she remembered. They all cleared up.
I tried it, keeping up the oil-rubbing regimen for about two weeks, getting rid of any new blisters that appeared.
It worked for us!!! Hopefully it'll work for you, too.