Bumps on inner thighs? Warts? Molluscum?

Dear Alice,

Hi there, this is a question that has been on my mind for years now, and one which I've felt too embarrassed to ask even my physician because of personal reasons.

My problem is this. On my thighs there are many raised bumps. Usually, there are between five to ten of them, and some can be quite big or painful. I think they are warts of some kind but I am not sure.

They've been appearing on me randomly for about four years now, I guess, and yet I'm wondering if they are sexual in some way? I didn't lose my virginity until two years ago, yet they only appear on my inner thighs and no creams I have ever tried abate them whatsoever. Could I have been born with an odd form of genital warts? Is there a recommended cure for these annoying things? Can I alleviate this problem without the trauma of asking my physician?

For years, these things have been bugging me, and now that I am sexually active, I fear that these might be contagious. They do have slippery/oily liquid in them when they tear.

What do I do? I'm perplexed, scared. When a problem like this sends a twenty-year-old male to tears, it's definitely a problem. Are there any recorded instances of this problem? Are warts on inner thighs common?

— Bumps on the Inner Thighs

Dear Bumps on the Inner Thighs,

First of all, as embarassing as it may seem, it would be a good idea to speak with your health care provider just as you did with here. "Hey, I'm embarrassed to bring this up, but I have these bumps on my inner thighs. Can you tell me what they are?"

These bumps might be molluscum contagiosum, a common skin condition that matches many of the characteristics you describe. Thigh bumps can also be folliculitis (an inflammation of the hair follicles) or some other chronic inflammation.

Mollusca are firm, dome shaped, flesh-colored bumps that may be umbilicated, which means that they have a little dimple in the center. However, there is room for variety in the description: they could be white, translucent, or yellow, and range in size from very tiny (head of a pin) to large (size of a nickel). They can also become red and swollen. They are usually found around the lower abdomen, genitals, and inner thighs. The cause is a virus different from the wart viruses. The virus can spread to other areas of the body, or to other people, usually by direct contact, such as sexual contact, but possibly nonsexual, too... for example, via clothing or towels. Fortunately, there are no hidden or future problems or risks, just the bumps.

Treatment? Easy, though inconvenient. There are a variety of methods, including a scraping procedure, called curettage, and freezing. Repeated treatments may be necessary. Overall, the outcome is better than with other types of wart-removal treatments. Going through treatment minimizes the risk of transmission to another person.

Your fear, embarrassment, and perplexity are all valid feelings and are certainly understandable. However, your symptoms do seem to require diagnosis from a medical professional.

Best of luck,

Last updated Jun 17, 2015
Originally published Feb 08, 1996

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