Yellowing of the mucous membrane and the skin is a characteristic sign of jaundice which is one of the most common liver disorders. Increment in the bilirubin production, a pigment of bile which is secreted by the liver is usually the reason for this.

In addition to the skin, tongue, urine and eye discoloration, severe constipation, extreme weakness, nausea, loss of appetite and headaches are also among the symptoms of jaundice.

Although jaundice is treatable and if treated at an earlier stage does not cause many issues but many want to know: is jaundice contagious?

Know What Causes Jaundice

If you want to know if jaundice is contagious or not, you have to know what causes this condition first.

Adults, children and babies can all get affected by jaundice. It is a medical condition rather than an ailment in which circulation of bilirubin, a compound produced by hemoglobin breakdown from RBC, in blood increases.

Jaundice is quite common in newborn babies because they have an extra amount of RBCs which breakdown quickly after birth and because their liver is not able to process bilirubin quickly.

An issue in any of the three phases in bilirubin production can cause jaundice:

1. You might suffer from unconjugated jaundice before the bilirubin production because of increment in the levels of bilirubin caused by:

  • Hemolytic anemias (Destruction and removal of bloods cells from the bloodstream before their normal lifespan)

  • Reabsorption of large hematomas (collection of partially or totally clotted blood under the skin)

2. Causes of jaundice during production of bilirubin are:

  • Viruses like Epstein-Barr virus infection (infectious mononucleosis), Hepatitis A and Chronic Hepatitis B and C

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Rare genetic metabolic defects

  • Alcohol

  • Medicines like Anabolic or Estrogenic steroids, oral contraceptive, Acetaminophen, Chlorpromazine (Thorazine®) and Penicillin

3. Jaundice might be caused after production of bilirubin by:

  • Cancer of Gallbladder

  • Gallbladder Inflammation

  • Pancreatitis

  • Gallstones

Is Jaundice Contagious?

Jaundice does not pose any infection risks and isn’t communicable on its own. It is a non-contagious symptom for a number of disorders that affect the liver.

However, the disease responsible for causing jaundice might be a contagious one.

For instance, if jaundice is caused by hepatitis A then other people are at risk of getting infected if the patient has an active infection. Individuals who get affected this way suffer from jaundice too but not because jaundice is contagious. They suffer from it because it is a symptom and not an infection. Thus, it is essential to identify and treat the underlying cause of jaundice as quickly as possible to limit the chances of contagion. Mild cases of jaundice can be treated by controlling the diet and practicing best rest.

And also infant Jaundice is not communicable. So, the answer to the question is jaundice contagious is no it’s not.

How Is Jaundice Treated?


For Newborn

Mild cases of infant jaundice last for two to three weeks before disappearing on their own. The baby may have to be admitted to the hospital again or remain in the nursery for a longer period of time if the jaundice is of a severe or moderate form.

Treatments given for lowering bilirubin level in the baby’s blood include:

  • Exchange transfusion

  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG)

  • Phototherapy (Light therapy)


For Adults

The type of jaundice the patient is suffering from, its cause and how severe it is are some of the factors which decide the treatment that is given to an adult patient of jaundice.

  • The treatment might include treatment of the underlying conditions like malaria and symptoms like itching.

  • Blood transfusion for replenishing the RBCs in the body is the only available treatment for incurable genetic conditions like sickle cell anemia.

  • Operation for unblocking the bile ducts becomes necessary if the bile duct system is being blocked by something. Measures for preventing future complications like gallbladder removal might be undertaken during these procedures.

  • A liver transplant remains the last option if the liver has been severely damaged.

How to Prevent Jaundice


For Newborn

It is impossible to prevent infant jaundice in most cases. But you can do the following to minimize the risks:

  • Ensuring that the baby is getting a good amount of fluids is the best way to prevent infant jaundice.

  • Many hospitals offer a lactation consultant who might prove to be helpful to you if you any concerns or questions regarding breastfeeding your child.


For Adults

Prevention of the underlying conditions that result in jaundice is possible in some cases. The following are some of the preventive measures that can be followed for preventing jaundice.

  • Refrain from excessive alcohol consumption (cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, pancreatitis)

  • Take Hepatitis A and B vaccines

  • Before travelling to high-risk areas for malaria, take the necessary medications for preventing this disease.

  • Refrain from having unprotected intercourse (hepatitis B) or using intravenous drugs.

  • Maintain good hygiene and refrain from consuming contaminated water or food (hepatitis A).

  • Individuals who have G6PD deficiency must refrain from taking medications that can result in hemolysis.

  • Refrain from using toxins or medicines that can damage the liver or cause hemolysis.


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