How Long Is Pink Eye Contagious in Children and Adults?

Last updated on April 4th, 2017 at 03:59 am

When pink eye is triggered by a virus or bacteria, the infected individual can be contagious for several days to several weeks as soon as symptoms (itchy, watery eyes; with or without eye discharge) appear.

Schools and day care centers frequently need a child diagnosed with pink eye to stay home up until the condition is fixed. This is a good idea, because transmittable conjunctivitis (pink eye) can be highly contagious in environments where children remain in close contact with each other.

How Long Is Pink Eye Contagious

But determining how long pink eye is contagious and how long you or your child ought to stay home can be a little challenging. Typically speaking, it needs to be safe for you to return to work or for your child to go back to school or to a day care center if the obvious symptoms of pink eye not are present– generally in three to 7 days.

This means that eyes ought to be clear of yellowish discharge and matter on the eyelashes in addition to the corners of the eyes. Also, the pink color in the white of the eye must be cleaned up.

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is a swelling or infection of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eyeball. When little blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed, they’re more noticeable. This is what causes the whites of your eyes to appear reddish or pink.


How Long Is Pink Eye Contagious in Children and Adults

Contagious Pink Eye Treatments

Topical antibiotic lotions or eye drops work to clear up infection in pink eye only if the source is bacterial. In this case, you require up to 24 hours for the eye drops or lotion to start working and for the infected individual to not be contagious.

If the source of the pink eye is viral, then the infection will need to run its course. In this case, you can relieve symptoms with lubricating eye drops to soothe inflammation. Applying warm or cool compresses (whichever feels better) to the outside eyelids, with eyes shut, likewise can assist relieve pink eye symptoms.

If pink eye is brought on by eye allergies, then the condition is not contagious. But you must talk to your optometrist to make sure you understand which type of pink eye you or your child has.

If eyes are pink from an allergy, eye drops including antihistamines may have the ability to eliminate symptoms. Cold compresses also can assist.

Direct exposure to Contagious Pink Eye

Again, it’s challenging to determine exactly how long pink eye is contagious, unless you understand the source of the infection.

For example, the rubeola virus causing measles and accompanying pink eye symptoms is incredibly contagious, frequently for as long as two weeks or more.

You likewise can be continually at risk of getting pink eye from exposure to particular adenoviruses found in water sources such as unchlorinated or filthy swimming pools. This is an excellent reason to use swim safety glasses or a swim mask with a seal that prevents your eyes from being exposed to the water.

You or your child also can be infected with exposure to bacteria and viruses found in the environment, such as contaminated towels or counter tops. The risk of environmental direct exposure can last for weeks unless contaminated products are cleaned and disinfected.

This is why it’s a great idea to discard products such as mascara brushes and other eye makeup if you have actually had transmittable conjunctivitis, even if your eyes have cleared up.

If you are being treated however do not discover any improvement in your pink eye symptoms after about 10 days, make certain to alert your optometrist.

Alik Muradov (Eyexan Team Member) / author of the article
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Ophthalmology: Health of Your Eyes
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