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Is Pink Eye Contagious? How to prevent the infection?

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Written by- Gina Walters

Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis is an eye infection involving the inflammation of the conjunctiva, which covers the white area of the eye.

It can occur due to bacteria, viruses, and allergens, leading to painful, itchy, and red eyes. 

But is Pink Eye contagious, and can spread to other people?

This article will explore if Pink Eye is contagious or not, how it spreads and its preventive measures.

Is Pink Eye contagious

Pink Eye can be contagious or non-contagious depending upon the underlying cause.

The infection can be contagious if caused by the bacteria and viruses that spread from contact. 

These include adenovirus, herpes simplex virus, and bacteria causing cold and respiratory infections.

The same pathogens can lead to cold and other infections, such as ear, sinus, and sore throat.

Pink Eye infections can also develop from the bacteria that cause Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, two sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 

The bacteria can get into the eye if someone touches the genitalia of an infected person and then rubs their own eye or comes into contact with a contact lens.

Bacterial Pink Eye can be transmitted to other people as soon as symptoms start to develop. 

It can persist as long as there is liquid discharge from the eye or up to 24 hours after starting antibiotics. 

Viral Pink Eye can often spread even before the symptoms appear and might continue as long as the Pink Eye symptoms last. 

On the other hand, certain types of Pink Eye, such as Allergic Pink Eye caused by an allergic response, are not contagious. Irritant Pink Eye, which can be brought on by anything that irritates the eyes, such as pool chlorine or air pollution, is also non-contagious.

Confused between Viral and Bacterial Pink Eye? Read our article: Viral vs Bacterial Pink Eye: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment to know more.

Don’t wear makeup if you have Pink Eye; it may worsen your symptoms.

How Pink Eye spreads

Eye redness (viral pink eye symptom)Source: dtimiraos_from_Getty_Images
Eye redness (viral pink eye symptom)

Pink Eye infection can be spread from one person to another just like any other bacterial and viral infection.

In the case of bacterial and viral Pink Eye, it takes around 24 to 72 hours for the onset of the symptoms and infection.

Pink eye, whether bacterial or viral, can be spread to other individuals in the following ways: 

  • Sharing personal belongings
  • Shaking hands or making direct contact 
  • Applying contaminated or outdated makeup that has accumulated bacteria
  • Touching eyes with unclean hands
  • Using contact lenses in areas where infections exist
  • Using objects contaminated with bacteria or viruses and then touching your eyes with the infected hands 
  • Sneezing and coughing

Know everything related to Bacterial Pink Eye symptoms with our article: What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Bacterial Pink Eye?

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Preventing Pink Eye from spreading

Pink Eye caused by bacteria and viruses is very contagious and can be easily spread among individuals by direct contact and sharing personal belongings.

Following personal hygiene practices can aid in preventing infection from spreading to other people:

  • Avoid touching your eyes with unclean hands
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses until your Pink Eye symptoms go completely
  • Carefully clean your lenses once the infection has gone completely
  • Use a new pair of lenses and discard your old ones
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use sanitizer after coming in contact with infected persons or their belongings
  • Avoid sharing potentially infectious things such as cotton balls, gauze, towels, or washcloths
  • Wash your hands frequently if you have Pink Eye, especially after touching your eyes
  • Do not share your makeup or any other cosmetic items with anyone if you have Pink Eye
  • Discard all of your old eye makeup and replace it with new ones, but make sure you wait to use them until the symptoms have cleared up
  • Allergic and irritant Pink Eye can be prevented by staying away from allergens and irritants

Know more about Pink Eye and how long it lasts. Read our article: How Long Does Pink Eye Last: From Onset to Recovery

Wearing contact lenses increases your chance of developing Pink Eye because of the bacteria’s ability to grow on the lenses. Avoid using lenses until symptoms go away.


Pink Eye is a prevalent eye disease that usually is not a matter of concern.

The symptoms generally go away in a few days without needing any medical treatment.

However, many people ask, ‘Is Pink Eye contagious?’

Pink Eye can be contagious or non-contagious based on the cause.

Viral and Bacterial Pink Eye is very infectious and can be easily spread among individuals.

Whereas Allergic Pink Eye is non-contagious.

Certain preventive measures can be taken to avoid the spread of Pink Eye from one person to another.

Want to know more about Pink Eye medicines? Read our article: Finding the Right Pink Eye Medicine: Understand Your Need

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pink Eye contagious?

Yes, Bacterial and Viral Pink Eye is contagious, and the infection may spread from one person to another.
Pink Eye caused by allergens and irritants is not contagious.

How long is Pink Eye contagious?

Bacterial Pink Eye remains contagious as soon as symptoms start appearing. 
Viral Pink Eye is often communicable before the onset of the symptoms and might continue to be so for the duration of the infection.

When is Pink Eye not contagious?

When Pink Eye is caused by allergens or irritants, such as pool chlorine or air pollution, it isn’t contagious.

Is Viral Pink Eye contagious?

Yes, Viral Pink Eye is very contagious.
Generally, it spreads through congested areas like schools.

How long is Pink Eye contagious after antibiotics?

Bacterial Pink Eye remains contagious for 24 hours after the start of antibiotics.

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