Cold Home > Is the Common Cold Contagious?

People often wonder: Is the common cold contagious? The answer is yes; however, the common cold is not as contagious as you might think. There are only two methods of spreading the common cold, while other viruses can be spread through several different methods.

Is the Common Cold Contagious?

Yes, the common cold is contagious. However, despite adults experiencing 2 to 4 colds per year (and children even more), the common cold is not as contagious as other viruses, such as chickenpox, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), and the flu, to name a few.

Common Cold Transmission

The common cold is transmitted in one of two ways:
  • Touching your skin or environmental surfaces, such as telephones and stair rails, that have cold germs on them and then touching your eyes or nose
  • Inhaling drops of mucus full of cold germs from the air.


(Click Transmission of the Common Cold for more information on how the common cold is spread.) 

Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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