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 only clean towels and washcloths.
  • Don't share towels or washcloths.
  • Change your pillowcases often.
  • Avoid swimming in a swimming pool.
  • Throw away your eye cosmetics, such as mascara.
  • Don't share eye cosmetics or personal eye care items.
  • Use any antibiotics for the complete period prescribed.

Pink eye symptoms may resolve in three to seven days. Children with viral conjunctivitis may be contagious for a week or more. Children may return to school when the redness and discharge in their eyes subsides.

If your child has bacterial conjunctivitis, keep him or her away from school until after treatment is started. 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.

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. This condition 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.

July 16, 2015