How can I prevent spreading the pink eye (conjunctivitis) infection?

If you or your child has bacterial or viral pink eye, your healthcare provider may recommend staying home from work, school or daycare until you are no longer contagious. Check with your doctor to find out how long that may be. Typically, you’re less likely to spread the infection if you’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours or no longer have symptoms.

Following good general hygiene and eye care practices can also help prevent the spread of pink eye. These practices include:

  • Don’t touch or rub the infected eye(s).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Wash any discharge from your eyes twice a day using a fresh cotton ball. Afterwards, discard the cotton ball and wash your hands with soap and warm water.
  • Wash your hands after applying eye drops or ointment to your eye or your child’s eye.
  • Don’t share personal items such as makeup, contact lenses, towels or cups.

What can I do to help relieve symptoms of pink eye (conjunctivitis)?

Since many cases of pink eye are mild, you can often get by with relieving symptoms at home until the condition passes. Applying nonprescription “artificial tears” eye drops may help relieve itching and burning from irritating substances.

Note: Other types of eye drops may irritate the eyes, so don’t use them. Avoid eye drops that have medication to “get the red out.” Also, do not use the same bottle of drops in the other eye if it is not infected.

Other measures to take to relieve the symptoms of pink eye (conjunctivitis) include:

  • Stop wearing your contact lenses until your symptoms go away.
  • Place cool compresses on your eyes (or warm if it feels better) and do not share washcloths or towels with others.
  • Wash your face and eyelids with mild soap or baby shampoo and rinse with water to remove irritating substances.

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