Contagious Pink Eye – Is Pink Eye Contagious? How Long, Prevention of...

Contagious Pink Eye – Is Pink Eye Contagious? How Long, Prevention of Infectious Conjunctivitis


There is a misconception on which pink eye is contagious and which one is. In fact, one of the common questions that many people often ask is if pink eye is contagious. The answer can be YES and NO, depending on what actually caused the pinkeye you are suffering from.

Is Pink Eye Contagious - How Contagious Is Pinkeye, Prevention of Infectious Conjunctivitis
A child rubbing here eye because of contagious conjunctivitis. This is one way it spreads.

To make everything clear, this article will seek to give a clear coverage on contagious pink eye. While discussing whether pink eye is contagious or not, some of the commonly asked questions we will tackle include the following:

  • Is pink eye contagious?
  • Which type of pink eyes is contagious?
  • For how long is pink eye contagious?
  • How do you prevent contagious pink eyes? These are not the only things covered in this article, there is a lot more to learn on contagious conjunctivitis, which you cannot afford to miss.

Which Pink Eye Types Are Contagious

Before we look at how long pink eye is contagious, how it spreads from one person to another and some of the ways to prevent it, you need to know which type of pink eye is contagious.

There are various types of pink eyes, which are classified according to their types. To make everything clear, we are going to classify pinkeye types into contagious and non-contagious pink eye.

Non Contagious Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis

These types of pink do not spread from one individual to another. Some of the common non-infections pink eye includes the following:

  • Allergic pinkeye – This type of conjunctivitis is caused by allergies such as animal dander, pollen, dust, smoke and other allergens.  Eyes become pink due to the reaction of the body towards allergens.
  • Irritants and Chemical Pinkeye –It is caused by exposure to various eye irritants or chemicals, which might get into your eye and irritate it. It does not spread from one person to another.
  • Trauma and Sub-Conjunctival Hemorrhage – This category has pinkeye that is not contagious. However, if the causes of conjunctival hemorrhage are contagious, then it will also be contagious. Ensure you know the causes of sub-conjunctival hemorrhage.
Viral Pink Eye – Causes, Symptoms, Cures, Treatments, Prevention Diagnosis of Viral Conjunctivitis
Eyes affected by virus pinkeye or conjunctivitis

Contagious Pink Eye

Contagious pink eye are those that easily spread from one person to another through various ways discussed later in this discussion. Although some resources classify them to many categories, we are going to classify them into only two broad classifications i.e. the viral and bacterial pink eye or conjunctivitis.

  • Viral Pinkeye – This type of contagious pink eye infection is highly contagious and can easily spread from one person to another or from one eye to another, in case it initially affected one eye. There are number causes of viral conjunctivitis that include herpes simplex virus and adenovirus. To get more insight on viral pinkeye causes, symptoms, diagnosis, cure and treatments kindly see Viral pinkeyes – Causes, Symptoms, Cures, Treatments, and Prevention Diagnosis of Viral Conjunctivitis. We have comprehensively covered on viral pinkeye or viral conjunctivitis.
  • Bacterial Pinkeye – The second type of pinkeye infection that is contagious is bacterial pinkeye.There are many types of bacterial pink eyes infection, which include chronic bacterial pink eyes, chlamydia conjunctivitis, gonococcal pinkeye, hyperacture bacterial pinkeye or conjunctivitis, trachoma etc. As you can see, some of these bacterial pinkeye infections are sexually transmitted infections or disease STIs and STDs that could be passed even from mother to child.
    Bacterial Pink eye – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention
    Bacterial pinkeye or conjunctivitis infection symptoms – yellowish green discharge

    We have also covered in details every detail on bacterial conjunctivitis.  Kindly see Bacterial Pink eye – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention of Viral Conjunctivitis for a detailed coverage.

You need to know that some of the conditions such as blocked tear duct in newborn babies and other underlying Diseases that can cause pinkeye can be contagious is the cause is contagious or not. Therefore, in knowing whether a certain type of pinkeye is infection or not, looks at if the cause can spread.  It is now much clear which type of conjunctivitis is contagious. Let us now look at how long is pink eye contagious.

How long is Pink Eye Contagious? Time when Conjunctivitis Is Infectious

Before we answer the question as to how long pin eye is contagious, I want to emphasize that if you suspect to be having pinkeye infection, it is important to ensure you have gotten treatment.  Now to answer the question, how long is pink eye contagious, you should know that according to Mayo Clinic, “pink eye can be highly contagious for as long as two weeks after signs and symptoms begin.” It is therefore very important to ensure you are diagnosed early enough to avoid spreading it to other people, especially to people who have bacterial pinkeye or viral pinkeye.

Conjunctivitis or pink eye infection is mostly not contagious during incubation stage i.e. from the time you are exposed to the bacteria or virus that cause the contagious conjunctivitis to the time when symptoms start showing up and when symptoms show, it comes very contagious. Therefore, when you have been diagnosed by the contagious conjunctivitis, it is a good idea to be isolated and not to go to school, work or let an infected child go to day care.

To answer the time aspect of how long is pink eye contagious, viral pinkeye is considered contagious for 3-5 days or when you see its symptoms begins to easy up. This can take up to 14 days. On the other hand, bacterial conjunctivitis or pink eye is contagious for 24 hours after bacterial conjunctivitis treatment has begun. However, if untreated, it could be contagious for much longer even up to three weeks.

If you have contagious pink eyes, to know that the condition is no longer contagious, you need to check for signs and symptoms such as discharge and tearing. Once these symptoms have disappeared, infection pinkeye is no longer contagious and people can go back to their place of work. If it is your child, you can let the child to go back to childcare or school.

Ways on How Contagious Pink Eye Spreads

We have seen how long pink is contagious and the types of conjunctivitis that is contagious. It is a good have an idea on how contagious pink eye spreads to be able to prevent it effectively. We have also covered ways to prevent infections and contagious pink eye problems.

Is Pink Eye Contagious - How to prevent contagious pink eye infection
Children playing in India, this is one way through which pink eye spreads.
  • Use of contact lenses without proper hygiene
  • Coming in contact with secretion of an infected person or touching any surface that is contaminated.
  • Poor personal hygiene such as not washing your hands with soap and warm water and touching your eyes with dirty hands
  • Touching anything an infected person has touched since infected people have a tendency of touching their eyes due to the itchy feeling.
  • Contagious pink eye can spread in swimming pools if shared by infected persons.
  • Contagious pink eye can also spread through using contaminated eye makeup such as mascaras, eyeliners, eyeshadow, false eyelashes, and eyebrow makeup and so on. Furthermore, ensure you properly dispose eye makeup brushes if you were once infected.
  • Swimming in dirty and unchlorinated water can cause the spread of contagious pink eye since adenoviruses are often found in such water.

Contagious problem of pinkeye affects both children and adults. However, common in children since they tend to be crowded in schools or day care as well as their playful general nature and interaction with other children.

How to Prevent Contagious Pink Eye

Now that you know conjunctivitis is very contagious and how long contagious pink eye are contagious, it is wise to also know ways, which you can prevent the spread of pinkeye.  Before we look at the various ways to prevent contagious pink eye infection, it is good always to ensure you have limited contact when someone has been diagnosed or shown the symptoms of pinkeye. Pupils are expected to be given a note from their health care personnel showing that the pinkeye is no longer contagious, especially the bacterial one.

  • Always wash your hands with soap and warm water. Furthermore, ensure you have disinfected your hands with a good disinfectant especially after you touch your infected eyes.
  • Avoid using the same eye drop bottle for both the infected and the non-infected eye.
  • Using a fresh cotton ball or paper towel, wash the discharge infected eye(s) severally in a day and discard the paper towel or cotton ball used safety before you can wash your hands again.
  • Stop using eye makeup (mascara, eyeliners, eyeshadows, eyelash enhancers, eyelash primers, under eye concealers, dark eye circle creams, eye bag creams, puffy eye creams or any other eye product you are using) as well as contact lenses by anyone. This will lead to quick spread of contagious pink eye infection
  • Avoid sharing your personal effects such as washcloths, towel, pillows, etc.
  • Instead of wearing contact lenses, you should begin wearing eyeglasses until the pink eye symptoms have disappeared. If you are using disposable contact lenses, consider throwing them away. If they are non-disposable, you should ask a doctor to help you disinfect them.
  • To avoid further spread of pinkeye infection, ensure you are not sharing eye drops that were used on an infected eye on an eye that is not infected.
  • Do not use glasses and towels that have not be washed
  • Another way to prevent spread of pinkeye, ensure you do not touch infected eye or eyes, especially if you are suffering from the contagious pink eye like the viral and bacterial infections.
  • If your child has viral pinkeye, let the child not go to school until the symptoms have disappeared since at this time, viral pinkeye will no longer be contagious.
  • Expectant mothers need to be screen for STIs to avoid the spread of these infections, which are known to cause pink eyes.
  • Separate your washcloth, towel and other personal effects separate from those of the rest of your family members.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, always use a tissue when you want to wipe them and dispose them well.
  • When you go swimming, ensure you have worn swimming goggles to avoid chlorine, which might trigger allergic reactions. Furthermore, avoid using swimming pools that have been used by infected people.

These are some of the ways to prevent contagious pink eye. All these practices should be adhered to always, and not when you have an infection. This will ensure you avoid any future infection with infectious and contagious pink eyes.


You now have answers to whether pinkeye is contagious or not. You also have information on how long pink eye is contagious, how to prevent it, what type of conjunctivitis is contagious, when to see a doctor and ways on how to prevent contagious pink eyes. If you want to avoid the contagious pink eyes infection completely, ensure you have kept proper hygiene, washing hands, not touching your face since the virus or bacteria that cause contagious pink eye can enter into your eyes, nose or mouth when you touch them, you will be able prevent pinkeye.

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How do you manage contagious pinkeye? Kindly share.