Is pink eye contagious?

What is pink eye?

Pink eye is also known as conjunctivitis. So it is defined as the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the conjunctiva is a transparent membrane that covers the white part of the eyeball. It is also known to line the eyelid. The blood vessels in the conjunctiva are more visible when they are inflamed. The pink eye appears pink or red due to such inflamed blood vessels. A viral infection and bacterial infection is usually responsible for pink eye. In pediatric patients, an open tear duct can be the reason of pink eye. Pink eye does not or rarely affects your vision. Pink eye is a contagious disease therefore on time treatment is beneficial in the prevention of transmission of the disease.

There are many reasons for pink eye such as:

  • Virus and bacteria that cause infections
  • Dry eyes
  • Fumes, smoke and chemical exposure
  • Pollen allergies and hay fever

How does a person get pink eye

Pink eye is extremely contagious and it transmits very quickly. A virus responsible for causing pink eye is untreatable therefore the prevention of this condition is very necessary. Unhygienic conditions and dirty and filthy hands are the main cause for the pink eyes. Infected things such as towel, handkerchief, or washcloths are also the main carrier of the disease-causing virus.

Can you still go to work with pink eye?

No, pink eye is extremely contagious. Inflammation of conjunctiva leads to pink eye. Some common symptoms include discharge, tearing, eye pain and irritation, redness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light. It can easily transmit from one eye to other. If one does not take the proper precautions, it can spread to all family members in no time.

One most common and most severe form of conjunctivitis (pink eye) is bacterial conjunctivitis. It usually caused by the bacteria that may cause from your own skin. You can also get it from other infected person or from your natural bacterial flora of upper respiratory tract. In bacterial conjunctivitis, you will see a bacterial discharge which is mucopurulent that form a crust overnight on the eye overnight. This bacterium is extremely contagious and can be passed to other when eyes producing tears and discharge. This infection can spread via physical contact, and can pass to family, friends, children in schools, or colleagues in the office. This is severely contaminated, however, it can resolve in a week or two without any treatment. Antibiotics eye drops are usually recommended by the doctor in order to treat the infection and should be properly administered on time. The antibiotic eye drops help in the prevention of further spread of the infection from one person to another.

A wet and teary eye is the most common symptom of another form of conjunctivitis known as viral conjunctivitis and is caused by a virus. Artificial tears or eye drops are the most effective treatment of viral conjunctivitis. This infection can last for few weeks or more. The virus can easily transmit from one person to another because the virus is present in tears and discharge from eyes.

You should avoid direct contact with the infected eyes and any bandages, tissues and cotton pads used for bathing the eye should be carefully wrapped and disposed of properly.

An allergic conjunctivitis is a form of conjunctivitis which is caused by an allergen and is not contagious as compared to other forms of conjunctivitis. It can also be caused by the allergy-causing substance. The symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include itching, swelling, redness, and tearing. A cold compress and anti-histaminic eye drops are beneficial in treating this form of conjunctivitis.

How to prevent the transmission of pink eye infection?

For prevention of the spread of pink eye can be achieved to the maximum by washing your hands more frequently. You should avoid touching the infected eye and should not rub the eye at all. You should not share your towels, wash clothes, and handkerchiefs with any other family member as it may carry a number of virus and bacteria which can transfer to others very easily. A hot water bath with disinfectant should be given to the dirty and infected clothes before re-using. Other objects such as telephones, doorknobs, faucets, and toys should be disinfected with antibacterial wipes and disinfectant sprays to neutralize the bacterial or viral infection.

Most contagious forms of conjunctivitis are viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, but pink eye caused by hay fever or an allergic reaction is not contagious. The pink eye which is a symptom of both types of conjunctivitis is a symptom of the allergy and will disappear when the allergen is removed.  It can also get vanished when antihistamine treatment is given because antihistamine reduces the allergic response of the body to the allergen. Sometimes it is hard to diagnose which type of pink eye someone is suffering with. If you have pink eye, take all proper precautions as summarized below to avoid spreading the infection.

  • The infected eye should not touch or rub again and again.
  • Maintain hygiene practices at your workplace and at your home as well. The clean hand is the key to prevention.
  • Avoid sharing towel and washcloths with any other member of the family.
  • Keep your eyes hydrated by applying eye drops in the eyes.
  • Dispose infected tissues, cotton pads, and wipes carefully and avoid touching them directly.
  • Bathe the eye using just one wipe from the inner to the outer corner, then dispose of the cotton. Use fresh cotton for each wipe
  • Do not forget to sterilize the towels and clothes after use.
  • Disinfect all the things that you can probably touch such as doorknobs, cell phone etc,
  • Do not use the contact lenses until you are out of infection and buy a new pair of lenses post infection.

How long is pink eye contagious? How long does conjunctivitis take to go away?

If you got a discharge from the infected pink eye, then it is more contagious. Presence of bacteria and virus can be determined by the amount of discharge from the infected eye. Transmission of the infection stops right after stoppage of discharge. The person can again switch to his/her daily activities post infection.

Pink eye usually remains contagious for 5 to 7 days. It may be painful in some cases. The transmission is on high during sleep as the bacteria and virus present in the discharge can easily transmit to nearby objects and nearby person.

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The patient should follow the treatment for pink eye. Prescribed medications and eye drops should be taken properly. One should also wait for at least 24 hours before returning to his workplace after the infection subsides.

How long pink eye remain contagious after starting antibiotics?

This could be a common question of the parents of an infected child with pink eye. Parents are always advised to contact a pediatrician if they see any symptom of pink eye or conjunctivitis. As the pink eye is extremely contagious and child can easily pass on this infection to other children in school. The other name of pink eye is conjunctivitis and two most common are allergic and viral.

When your eye is exposed to a certain allergen, it may cause allergic conjunctivitis. The symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are red and itchy eyes. Whereas viral conjunctivitis is caused by a virus (the same virus may be responsible for the common cold), this type of conjunctivitis is painful and itchy. Another problematic conjunctivitis is bacterial conjunctivitis which is very rare and more serious infection.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the infection is viral or bacterial at very early stage. Therefore the treatment always is given for bacterial conjunctivitis in order to prevent further complications. So the antibiotics are usually given for bacterial conjunctivitis. They may play no role in shortening the infection; however, they may prove beneficial in the prevention of the further infection. Your doctor or your child pediatrician may examine the eyes physically and will prescribe the medications. You should also be aware of the fact that the pink eyes do not remain contagious after 24 hours of the disappearance of symptoms, but one should not take this statement for granted. In case of the infected children, ask your pediatrician about how to keep the kids away from other children.

Can you wear contact lenses if you have pink eye?

The one, who is infected from the pink eye, must dispose of their previous eye lenses and its case. Previous lenses can be highly contaminated. This is the only way to prevent the re-infection.  The disinfectant, given for eye lenses is not able to kill the bacteria and virus. Another point you should remember is that do not wear new lenses until the previous infection disappears completely.

how soon can you wear contacts after pink eye

What are the symptoms of pink eye?

The most common pink eye symptoms include:

  • Redness in one or both eyes
  • Itchiness in one or both eyes
  • A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
  • A discharge in one or both eyes that forms a crust during the night that may prevent your eye or eyes from opening in the morning
  • Tearing

When should I see a doctor if I have pink eye?

You should seek immediate medical care if you got a feeling of something got into your eyes, light insensitivity, or blurred vision. These may be symptoms of serious eye conditions. After the beginning of signs and symptoms of pink eye, it may remain contagious for 2 weeks. Early diagnosis, prevention and ultimately treatment can be helpful in protecting the people around you. As soon as you see the symptoms of infected pink eye, you should always seek help of your ophthalmologist for treatment of pink eye.

People who wear contact lenses need to stop wearing their contacts as soon as pink eye symptoms begin. It is so because previous lenses can be highly contaminated. This is the only way to prevent the re-infection.  The disinfectant, given for eye lenses is not able to kill the bacteria and virus. Another point you should remember is that do not wear new lenses until the previous infection disappears completely. If your symptoms don’t start to get better within 12 to 24 hours, make an appointment with your eye doctor to make sure you don’t have a more serious eye infection related to contact lens use.

How to diagnose pink eyes?

Your doctor can diagnose your pink eyes by enquiring about symptoms of infected eye and your recent health history. He may perform a general physical examination of your eyes.

If you have a discharge from your eyes, your doctor may collect a sample of discharge from your eye and send it for laboratory analysis. Taking the sample from eyes is done rarely, only if your symptoms are very severe or doctor see a high risk cause.

What are some home remedies for pink eyes?

To help you cope with the signs and symptoms of pink eye until it goes away, try to:

Compresses for pink eye infection:

You can make a compress by soaking a clean lint-free cloth in water and wring it properly before applying. Apply this compress on your closed eyelids. Sooth your eyes with cold compression, but you can also opt for warm compression if you feel better with it. Avoid contaminating the other eye by using the infected wipe while cleaning your eyes.

Eye drops for pink eyes:

Artificial tears are commonly known as over the counter eye drops. Eye drops may contain medications such as antibiotics or antihistamines; therefore, they are beneficial in treating allergic conjunctivitis. Antibiotics eye drops should always administer after proper prescription of your doctor.

Say no to contact lenses for prevention of pink eye infection:

If you wear contact lenses, you may need to stop wearing them until your eyes feel better. How long you’ll need to go without contact lenses depends on what’s causing your conjunctivitis. Ask your doctor whether you should throw away your disposable contacts, as well as your cleaning solution and lens case. If your lenses aren’t disposable, clean them thoroughly before reusing them.

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