How Is Pink Eye Spread? 

Pink eye, also referred as conjunctivitis, is a common problem that many people have suffered from. When small blood vessels within your eyes are infected, they will turn pink and become visible. Pink eye can occur in everyone and sometimes can spread from person to person, but it is also quite easy to treat it and even prevent from it. Don’t worry if you are infected with pink eye, follow the ways in the article and you will get rid of it very soon.

Is Pink Eye Contagious?

Whether pink eye is contagious depends on the cause of it. For example, pink eyes caused by virus and bacteria are usually contagious, and can spread from one to the other. However, if your pink eye is caused by allergens and chemical irritants, you will not spread it to other people. Usually, there is a 14-day incubation period for contagious pink eye, but many doctors believe that it is not contagious during the incubation period. Some bacterial and viral strains can even be two-ways transferred: they can spread from infected humans to pets, and also from infected pets to human beings.

How Is Pink Eye Spread?

The following several ways show how people get pink eye usually.

  • You have a close contact with the secretions of a viral or bacterial infected individual.
  • You have exposed yourself to something that will induce your allergy.
  • You have used dirty contact lenses or decorative contacts or contact lenses that are not properly fitted.

Children are at a high risk of getting pink eye caused by virus or bacteria because they come in close contact with other children in schools or day care centers and also because they may not be practicing good hygiene.

How to Prevent Getting It

After knowing “how is pink eye spread”, there are some steps that you can follow to reduce the risk of getting pink eye:

  • Avoid sharing of personal belongings such as hand towels, tissues etc.
  • While sneezing or coughing, always cover your mouth and nose, do not rub or touch your eyes.
  • Do not share your special effect contact lenses or color contact lenses with your friends.
  • Make it a habit to wash your hands often, especially when in public places.
  • Use a hand disinfectant such as Purell to disinfect your hands.
  • Clean surfaces such as faucet handles, bathroom vanities, and countertops and shared phones often with an antiseptic cleanser.
  • Consult your physician to minimize your symptoms if you suffer from seasonal allergies.
  • If you use contact lenses, it is recommended to follow the instruction of your eye doctor for proper care and replacement of lens and properly use contact lens solution. You can also consider using disposable contacts.

While swimming, it is recommended to wear swim glasses to avoid bacteria and other microorganisms from entering the eyes.

How to Avoid Spreading Your Illness to Other People

  • Never share certain of your private items with other people, especially towels, eye-drops, and eye make-up.
  • Do not go swimming, because water is quite easy for the bacteria to spread and other people may be infected due to your appearance in the swimming pool.
  • Have a rest at home until the infection clear up. For the viral and bacterial pink eye, it will take 3-7 days to be not contagious anymore. Staying at home can decrease the risk of spreading your illness to other people.
  • After you back to school or company, tell other people that you have infected pink eye, so that they can take some precautions.

Symptoms You’ll Have If You’re Infected

Apart from knowing how is pink eye spread, it is important to know the symptoms of pink eye. The symptoms of conjunctivitis differ depending on the cause of the infection, however, the common symptoms are:

  • The white of the eye or the inner eyelid becoming red
  • Increased tearing
  • A thick, yellow discharge that forms crusts on the eyelashes, more so after sleep
  • A white or green discharge from the eyes
  • Itching in the eyes
  • Burning of the eyes
  • Blurring of vision
  • Increased sensitivity to light

How to Address the Discomfort

Treatment is based upon the cause of the infection.

  • Symptoms in viral pink eye may last from 1 to 2 weeks and then clear on their own without requiring any treatment. Viral pink eye is not cured by antibiotic eye drops. Severe cases of viral pink eye may last for longer duration.
  • With bacterial pink eye, antibiotic eye drops are usually prescribed by an eye M.D. (ophthalmologist).
  • In the treatment of allergic pink eye,removing contact with the allergen is the first step. The symptoms can be relieved by using allergy medicines. These medicines may be required to be started before a flare up or an allergy season.

There are also some home remedies to ease your symptoms:

  • Pain and discharge from pink eye can be reduced by home treatment. In case you use contact lenses, it is advised to remove them and use glasses instead until the symptoms have resolved completely. Both the contacts and the storage cases should be cleaned thoroughly.
  • You can either use hot or cold compresses (depending on whichever feels good). In allergic pink eye cool compress is felt well. A moist, warm compress may soothe the pink eye caused due to an infection and help decrease swelling and redness. Take care to apply a different compress to each eye as infection may spread from one eye to the other. Moreover, a clean compress should be used for every application.

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

Majority of the cases of conjunctivitis are mild and are able to clear on their own without any treatment. However, sometimes, it becomes imperative to consult a physician for specific therapy or close follow up. You should see your healthcare provider if you develop pink eye associated with the following symptoms:

  • Moderate to severe eye pain
  • Increased sensitivity to light or blurring of vision
  • Severe red eyes
  • Weakness of immune system (for example from cancer treatment of HIV)
  • Symptoms that are worse or don’t show improvement, especially bacterial conjunctivitis that does not show improvement after using antibiotics for 24 hours
  • If you have any pre-existing conditions of the eyes that may increase your risk of developing severe infection or complications