Are Skin Diseases Contagious?
Which skin disease is contagious?
Your skin acts as the first line of defense against external factors that can cause disease. These external factors may include things like bacteria, viruses, sunlight, heat, cold, chemicals and many others.
But what happens when your skin gets affected by a disease? Can a person who has a skin disease spread it to others? Are skin diseases contagious? Lets see the answer.
Contagious skin diseases
Whether a skin disease is contagious or not, depends upon the nature of disease. Suppose bacteria, fungi or viruses penetrate the skin of a person and cause a skin infection. The person whose skin is suffering from infection can function to spread the disease to others.
A common example of this scenario is the chicken pox infection. When this virus attacks a person, he develops small vesicles (fluid filled skin lesions) on skin and becomes extremely infectious. In some cases, the whole family becomes infected. So, in this case, the skin disease is communicable.
Similarly, if a person has Tinea Pedis (fungal infection of the feet), s/he can easily transfer it to others. Similar is the case for many bacterial infections; they can be contagious.
Another example is that of scabies. This condition is extremely itchy and is the result of a mite that burrows into your skin. It then lays its eggs within the burrow. The mites therefore increase in number and then travel to distant places on the skin of the same person. But, if at any point, the mite gets trasferred to the skin of another person (e.g. due to a prolonged handshake or skin contact); the other person gets infested too.
Non-contagious skin diseases
On the other hand, there are many skin diseases that are not contagious at all. Such diseases are the result of disease-processes that influence the affected person only. They cannot be transferred to others. Hence, such diseases are non-contagious.
For example: eczema or psoriasis. These skin diseases are caused by inflammation of the skin. Such inflammation does not get transferred to others and for this reason, these diseases cannot spread to others.
Other examples of non-contagious skin diseases include Vitiligo and Alopecia areata etc.
Vitiligo: This condition is the results of auto-immune processes that affect the melanin producing cells (melanocytes) of the skin. Since malanocytes are destroyed, the skin fails to produce the pigment that imparts color to the skin; hence the white skin patches.
Alopecia Aerata: This disease causes hair loss. The underlying mechanism involves autoimmune destruction of hair follicles (hair follicles are responsible for hair production). Once hair follicles are affected, hair production is lost.
Not all skin diseases are contagious. But certain diseases of the skin do have the potential of spreading to others, i.e. they are contagious.
It is always a good idea to ask your dermatolgist about your skin condition. And if you are concerned about your skin disease’s spread, your skin doctor is the best person to guide you in this regard.