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Understanding Pink Eye -- Prevention

How Can I Prevent Pink Eye?

Bacterial and viral pink eye are contagious. To prevent contracting pink eye or spreading it to other people, follow these preventive measures.

  • Wash hands thoroughly and often, especially if you touch your eye or the area around it.
  • Keep hands away from the infected eye. Infection can also enter the body through the nose and mouth.
  • Do not share washcloths, towels, pillowcases, or handkerchiefs with others, including family members.
  • Change the above items after each use and wash them thoroughly.
  • Do not use other people's eye drops or cosmetics, particularly eyeliner pencils and mascara.

If your child gets pink eye, keep him or her out of school for a few days until there is no eye discharge and the redness is completely gone. Once one student comes down with pink eye, it is not uncommon for it to spread to an entire class.

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Allergic pink eye can be prevented by avoiding those things that trigger the condition. New treatments for allergy sufferers (pills and eye drops) can help prevent symptoms before they occur. Some patients benefit from skin testing that identifies specific sensitivities that can be blocked with regular injections (immune therapy).

Some forms of pink eye are caused by irritation from chemicals used to clean contact lenses. Temporary or permanent discontinuation of contact lens use can help relieve giant papillary conjunctivitis.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Alan Kozarsky, MD on March 07, 2015

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