Is Your Skin Rash Contagious?

Noticing a rash on your skin or your child’s skin can be unnerving, especially if you aren’t sure what it is. A top question when it comes to an undiagnosed skin rash is whether or not it is contagious. Here is a list of common contagious skin diseases that can affect both children and adults:

Poison Ivy Rash

One of the most popular contagious skin rashes is poison ivy, which is a reaction to the skin’s direct contact with the oil in a poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac plant. If the plant’s oil remain on your clothes, skin, or fingernails, this itchy rash can spread to another person. Wash the affected areas with soap and water immediately.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) Infection

MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that’s resistant to many antibiotics. A community associated MRSA infection (one that originates outside of a healthcare facility) usually develops as a painful boil on the skin. However, a fever, pus or drainage may also be present. Most MRSA infections can be treated with an antibiotic, but this skin infection can spread from skin-to-skin contact or through razors, washcloths, etc.


Scabies is a pimple-like rash that will eventually scab over. It can be extremely itchy and is caused by a mite that burrows into the skin to lay eggs. Scabies is especially contagious when the rash contains crusted scabs.

Molluscum Contagiosum (MC)

Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a viral skin infection, and one that is common in kids. It appears as small white or pink bumps that resemble warts. MC is more likely to develop in an environment that is hot and humid, and which puts gymnasts and swimmers at higher risk. MC is spread from contaminated water or even a shared towel.


Ringworm is not actually a worm. It is caused by a fungus, the same fungus that leads to athlete’s foot. Skin-to-skin contact, sharing hairbrushes, clothing or towels and walking around barefoot in a locker room are common ways that ringworm is spread. Ringworm appears as a circular rash with a red or pink border and pale center, which is how it got its name.


Impetigo is another contagious skin disease that affects children more than adults. It is marked by the presence of red sores around the mouth and nose. These sores can burst open and crust over. This is a highly contagious skin rash that may need antibiotic treatment.

Trying to determine whether your skin rash is contagious or not can be a difficult task to do on your own, especially if you are relying on Internet images to make your self-diagnosis. At Olansky Dermatology Associates, we recommend seeing one of our skin care experts for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan. We can tell you if your rash is contagious right away, which can often prevent other family members or close friends from contracting the rash. We treat all types of skin conditions for children, teens and adults in our state-of-the-art dermatology practice in Atlanta. In the meantime, practicing good hygiene is the best way to avoid catching or spreading a contagious skin rash.

Posted on behalf of Olansky Dermatology & Aesthetics