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How Long Is Pink Eye Contagious?



Viral and bacterial pink eye are no longer contagious when the discharge clears.

More Info: Pink eye, medically referred to as conjunctivitis, causes the eyes to tear and create an oozing discharge.  In the case of viral and bacterial pink eye, as long as these symptoms remain, it is still contagious.  It generally takes three to seven days for the infectious symptoms of pink eye to begin clear. If the pink eye is caused by an irritant or allergens, then it is not contagious.

What Is Pink Eye?

Pink eye is the swelling of the mucous membranes that line the eyelid and eye surface called the conjunctiva, which is why pink eye is medically referred to as conjunctivitis.  This lining is generally clear and goes unnoticed unless irritation or infection occurs, which can cause redness and swelling.  Pink eye is very common and will generally clear on its own in seven to ten days.

Bacterial versus Viral Conjunctivitis

Pink eye can be caused by bacteria or viruses.  Both types of pink eye are contagious and easily spread.  In the case of viral pink eye, there is generally no medical intervention necessary. The virus will generally run its course in three to five days.

In the case of bacterial pink eye and antibiotic is prescribed. It is generally not contagious twenty-four hours after beginning antibiotic treatment.

How to Prevent the Spread of Pink Eye

Pink eye is highly contagious and easily spread from person to person through contact with the infected mucous.  Refrain from touching your eyes as much as possible and be diligent about washing your hands frequently. During the infectious period, do not share towels, makeup, pillows and bedding, or anything that can possibly contain the infected eye mucous.



“Pink eye: How long is it contagious? –” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2011.

“Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis) – WebMD | Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” WebMD – Better information. Better health.. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2011.

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