Avoid Massage with these 19 Skin Conditions! (with Pictures)

List of 19 Contagious Skin Infections When Massage Should Be Avoided

Massage therapy can help reduce stress, pain, and promote relaxation. However, there are times when massage is NOT appropriate, particularly when they have a contagious skin infection. Skin infections can be caused by various microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and viruses, and some are highly contagious.

In such cases, massage is contraindicated to (1) prevent the spread of the infection to other parts of the patient’s body, (2) prevent infecting the massage therapist, and (3) prevent the spread to other massage patients.

Infectious microorganisms can be easily transmitted through direct contact with the infected skin, sharing towels or clothing, and using contaminated massage equipment.

Because these microorganisms can be small and not visible to the naked eye, it’s possible for an infection to spread without us even knowing it. For example, if a skin infection is visible on the forearm, there may be small spots of infection spreading to other parts of the body that we can’t see clearly.

If you suspect that you or a client may have a contagious skin infection, it’s important to see a dermatologist/ doctor as soon as possible. They can properly diagnose the infection and determine the appropriate course of treatment. The responsible thing to do is to postpone the massage treatment until the infection has been treated and is no longer contagious.

Here’s a list of of common infectious skin diseases (alphabetized) that can spread through contact therefore massage is contraindicated:


1. Athlete’s Foot (Tinea pedis): This fungal infection causes redness, itching, and scaling on the feet. You can also spread it from the foot to other parts of the body. For example, you can spread the fungal infection if you scratch or pick the infected parts of your foot, then touch other parts of your body.

athelete's foot massage

Athlete’s Foot

2. Boils (furuncles): A boil is a painful, pus-filled bump that forms under your skin when bacteria infect and inflame one or more of your hair follicles. Boils usually start as reddish or purplish, tender bumps.

Boils (furuncles) massage


3. Carbuncle: A carbuncle is a cluster of boils that form a connected area of infection under the skin.

Carbuncle massage


4. Cellulitis: This bacterial infection causes redness, swelling, tenderness and warmth on the skin. It is commonly found on the lower legs and feet, but it can occur on any part of the body. Staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria are the most common causes of cellulitis. Normal skin has many types of bacteria living on it. When there is a break in the skin, these bacteria can cause skin infection. If untreated, cellulitis can spread and cause serious health problems.

Cellulitis and massage


5. Chickenpox (varicella): This viral infection causes an itchy, blister-like rash. Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV).

Chickenpox (varicella) massage

Chickenpox (varicella)

6. Cold Sores ( fever blisters or herpes simplex labialis) – Cold sores are painful blisters on the skin caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).

cold sore massage

Cold sore (caused by herpes simplex virus)

7. Erysipelas: This bacterial infection causes redness, swelling, and warmth on the skin, which can be spread through contact. Erysipelas is a form of cellulitis characterized clinically by shiny, raised, indurated, and tender plaques with distinct margins. High fever, chills, and malaise are frequent symptoms that accompany erysipelas.

erysipelas massage


8. Folliculitis: This bacterial infection causes red, swollen, and tender hair follicles on the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body where there is hair.

Folliculitis massage


9. Fungal nail infections: These infections can cause thick, discolored, and brittle nails.

nail fungus massage

Fungal Nail Infection

10. Impetigo: This bacterial infection causes red, itchy sores on the skin. The red sores that can break open and form a crust. Impetigo is highly contagious and is more common in young children.

impetigo massage


11. Lice (Pediculosis): These parasitic infections can cause intense itching and small red bumps on the scalp.

lice massage

Lice (Pediculosis)

12. Measles (rubeola): This viral infection causes a rash, fever, and cough. It is a very contagious infection that causes a total-body skin rash and flu-like symptoms.

measles rash massage

Measles rash

13. Molluscum contagiosum: This viral infection (poxvirus) causes small, raised, pearl-like bumps on the skin. The lesions (growths) may appear anywhere on the body.

Molluscum contagiosum massage

Molluscum contagiosum

14. Ringworm (Tinea Corporis): This fungal infection causes a circular rash on the skin. It is highly contagious and can be spread through contact with infected skin or objects such as towels, pillowcases, sheets etc.

ring worm massage


15. Rubella (German measles): This viral infection causes a rash, fever, and joint pain. Rubella is a contagious disease caused by a virus. Most people who get rubella usually have a mild illness, with symptoms that can include a low-grade fever, sore throat, and a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

German Measles massage (Rubella)

German Measles (Rubella)

16.Scabies: This parasitic infection causes an itchy rash on the skin. It is spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. This parasite infestation can cause intense itching and a rash that appears as small, red bumps or blisters.

scabies massage


17. Shingles (herpes zoster): This viral infection causes a painful rash that typically appears on one side of the body. The rash consists of blisters that typically scab over in 7 to 10 days and fully clears up within 2 to 4 weeks. Before the rash appears, people often have pain, itching, or tingling in the area where it will develop.

shingles massage

Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

18. Staph Infections, (Staphylococcus aureus infections): These bacterial infections can cause a range of skin conditions, such as boils, abscesses, and impetigo.

staph infection massage

Staph Infections,(Staphylococcus bacteria infections)

18. Warts (Verrucae): These viral infections cause small, rough growths on the skin. They are typically found on the hands or feet and can be spread through contact with infected skin or objects. Warts can also be transmitted indirectly by contact with contaminated objects, such as towels, shoes, areas surrounding swimming pools, or the floors of communal changing areas.

warts massage