Pink eye, which is a more common name used for referring to conjunctivitis, is an infection that affects one or both the eyes of a patient. As the name suggests, this eye infection makes the eyes appear pink or red in color. Almost every person suffers from this infection at least once in their childhood.
“How long is pink eye contagious?” is the first question that comes to the mind of every child who gets conjunctivitis. The reason behind this is that the pink eye infection becomes an obstacle in their daily life. Due to the fear that others might get infected, patients stop going out of their homes. They impatiently wait for the infection to go away so that they can resume their day-to-day activities.
Now, the duration for which conjunctivitis can stay depends on the cause of the infection. Pink eye can occur due to viruses or bacteria. If it’s caused by a virus, pink eye is contagious even before the onset of symptoms. It can remain contagious until the symptoms last. Pink eye caused by bacteria is contagious from the moment the symptoms start appearing. It can remain contagious until the discharge from the eye doesn’t stop or until twenty-four hours (24) hours after the patient starts taking antibiotics.
However, you should not worry about “how long is pink eye contagious or infectious” in case of allergic conjunctivitis and irritant conjunctivitis. Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by allergic reactions. Irritant conjunctivitis is caused by elements that can irritate the eye, for example, air pollution or chlorine present in the water of swimming pools.
What are the Symptoms of Conjunctivitis?
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Learning about the symptoms will help you confirm the presence of pink eye infection as quickly as possible. Whether you can confirm or have doubts about having conjunctivitis, it’s in your best interest to immediately consult a physician or an eye specialist.
Some of the symptoms might differ according to the cause of conjunctivitis. You must have understood by now that conjunctivitis can occur because of bacteria, viruses, allergic reactions, and irritants. Irrespective of the cause, the common symptom is the pink or red coloring of the eye. Other symptoms are itchiness in the eye, discomfort in the eye, swelling of the conjunctiva, discharge from the eye, crusty eyelash and eyelid, burning sensation, and pain.
Along with worrying about how long is pink eye contagious, you should also worry about the symptoms. Noticing the symptoms will give you an idea of the cause as well as the expected recovery time. For example, if you notice that the discharge from the infected eye is watery, the conjunctivitis is viral. But if the discharge is thicker and has pus, you have bacterial conjunctivitis.
Symptoms like itchiness and tearing are observed in the case of pink eye infection caused by allergic reactions. Patients suffering from conjunctivitis often wake up with eyelids that are stuck together. If you are experiencing this, you just need to use a warm washcloth to clean your eyes. It will loosen the dried crusts on eyelashes and eyelids.
How Long Is Pink Eye Contagious: A Serious Question
People fret over the question “how long is pink eye contagious” because conjunctivitis can spread easily. That’s the reason why patients are advised to stay indoors and avoid meeting other people. More children than adults get conjunctivitis. When one child suffering from conjunctivitis visits school or any other place, they can infect many other children.
While adults can understand the importance of avoiding or preventing diseases and infections, children can’t. Hence, it becomes even more essential to keep children protected from any infectious disease. Children who get conjunctivitis skip attending school until they fully recover.
Adults who get infected with conjunctivitis stay at home as much as possible. If they step outside, they wear sunglasses as a matter of precaution. Even if patients stay at home, they still need to follow some precautions, such as maintaining eye hygiene, washing personal items regularly, and not sharing personal items. Most importantly, they should refrain from touching or rubbing their eyes. You should also take care in terms of using cosmetic products on your eyes.
How is the Pink Eye Infection Treated?
“How long is pink eye contagious?” – the answer to this question also depends on the treatment received by the patient. Until the patient is receiving treatment, they should avoid getting in touch with other people. Even after the complete recovery, some patients stay indoors to stay extra cautious.
The pink eye infection or conjunctivitis caused by the virus gets treated on its own according to the body’s response to the virus as per its immune system. However, in some cases, doctors prescribe antiviral medicines to the patients. Viral conjunctivitis can last anywhere between a few days and two weeks.
In case of bacterial conjunctivitis, doctors prescribe antibiotic eye drops. Without treatment, bacterial conjunctivitis can last for around 10 days. When patients get treatment for the bacterial pink eye, they get well in a few days. Conjunctivitis caused by allergic reactions gets treated on its own. However, depending on the severity of the condition of a patient, the doctor may prescribe some medicines for allergic pink eye.
Now that you know how long is pink eye contagious, you can be careful whenever you or anyone from your loved ones suffer from conjunctivitis.