Is Colitis Contagious?

Medically Reviewed on 3/29/2023

What is colitis?

Colitis may or may not be contagious depending upon its cause.
Colitis may or may not be contagious depending upon its cause.
  • Colitis is a general term that can mean inflammation of the colon; however, more recently the term colitis has been used to include
  • There are many different causes of colitis, so the best way to answer questions about colitis is to determine what type of colitis you want information about.

This information serves only as an introduction and to classify the major types of colitis that are mainly contagious or not contagious.

Is colitis contagious?

This list of some conditions that are often termed "colitis," but have different underlying causes that make them classifiable as either contagious or non-contagious. Some terms related to colitis subsets, just like the term "colitis," have multiple causes that result in the condition being either contagious or not contagious:

Types of colitis that are or are not contagious

  1. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): subsets;
  2. Allergic colitis: not contagious
  3. Ischemic colitis: not contagious
  4. Immune deficiency disorders (many types): not contagious
  5. Necrotizing enterocolitis: not contagious
  6. Microscopic colitis: not contagious
  7. Pseudomembranous colitis: contagious
  8. Infectious colitis: Many bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic types, and most are contagious, but a few are not contagious.
  9. C. difficile colitis: contagious
  10. Bacterial colitis: contagious
  11. Indeterminate colitis: (not known)


Bowel regularity means a bowel movement every day. See Answer

How do you know that you have colitis?

Although symptoms vary greatly depending on the type of colitis, almost every type of colitis has the symptoms of abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and/or pain.

Other symptoms may vary with the type of colitis and may include:

Individuals with some of these symptoms are likely to need a healthcare professional to order tests (blood, fecal, and/or imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scan, and possibly other tests) to diagnose the type of colitis.

If a person has diarrhea that does not resolve in a few days, blood in the stool, increasing abdominal discomfort and/or pain, or early signs of dehydration they should seek medical care immediately or death can occur.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

How did I get infectious colitis?

  • Contagious types of colitis are spread from person-to-person, but non-contagious types of colitis are not.
  • Contagious types of colitis are usually spread by direct person-to-person contact, usually by the hands (fecal/oral), but others may be spread by contaminated food or fluids, and for some types, indirectly by contact with contaminated items like clothing, utensils, or toothbrushes.

Does colitis ever go away?

Some types of colitis, like Crohn's disease or microscopic colitis, have no known cure to date. Other types of colitis like bacterial-caused enteritis, can be "cured", often with the use of certain antibiotics.

You and your doctor need to first discuss the type of colitis you have (just saying that you have colitis is not specific enough of a diagnosis for a doctor) and then discuss your treatment and possible "cure" if any, for the specific type of colitis.

Medically Reviewed on 3/29/2023
Piccoli, D., et al. "Colitis." Medscape. Jan. 4, 2019. Medscape. <>.