Preventing the spread of pink eye

Practice good hygiene to control the spread of pink eye. For instance:

  • Don't touch your eyes with your hands.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Use a clean towel and washcloth daily.
  • Don't share towels or washcloths.
  • Change your pillowcases often.
  • Throw away your eye cosmetics, such as mascara.
  • Don't share eye cosmetics or personal eye care items.

The safest way to prevent spreading pink eye is to stay home — or keep your child at home — until eye discharge has stopped. Most schools and child care facilities require that your child wait at least 24 hours after starting treatment before returning to school or child care. Check with your doctor if you have any questions about when your child can return to school or child care.

Keep in mind that pink eye is no more contagious than the common cold. It's okay to return to work, school or child care if you're not able to take time off — just stay consistent in practicing good hygiene.

Preventing pink eye in newborns

Newborns' eyes are susceptible to bacteria normally present in the mother's birth canal. These bacteria cause no symptoms in the mother. In rare cases, these bacteria can cause infants to develop a serious form of conjunctivitis known as ophthalmia neonatorum, which needs treatment without delay to preserve sight. That's why shortly after birth, an antibiotic ointment is applied to every newborn's eyes. The ointment helps prevent eye infection.

June 20, 2017