How Can I Prevent Pinkeye?

Medically Reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD on June 19, 2020

Pinkeye, also known as conjunctivitis, spreads very easily. But you can take steps to avoid getting it, or spreading it to other people.

Keep your hands clean. Wash them thoroughly and often, especially if you touch your eye or the area around it. If you have pinkeye, keep your hands off that eye.

Infection can also enter the body through the nose and mouth. So don’t share washcloths, bath towels, pillowcases, or handkerchiefs with others, even with family. Don’t use other people's eye drops or cosmetics, particularly eyeliner pencils and mascara.

If your child gets pinkeye, keep them out of school for a few days until the eye discharge stops and the redness is completely gone. Once one student comes down with pinkeye, it can easily spread to an entire class.

Pinkeye and Allergies

If your pinkeye is tied to allergies, avoid your triggers.

  • Don’t rub your eyes. This makes it worse.
  • Splash your face and eyes with cold water or use a cool compress.
  • Use aqueous-based “artificial tears.” 
  • Stick with your allergy treatment.


Pinkeye and Contact Lenses

Sometimes, chemicals used to clean contact lenses can irritate your eyes. You may find relief if you change how you clean your contacts, but be sure to disinfect them before you put them back in your eyes. Ask your eye doctor about the best way to do this.

If you wear contact lenses and you get pinkeye, you should remove them and:

  • Switch to glasses until your eye heals.
  • Get rid of the disposable lenses you were wearing when you got pinkeye.
  • Disinfect your lenses -- if they aren’t the kind you can throw away -- before you use them again.
  • Clean your lens case or replace it.
  • Ask your eye doctor if you should throw away other things, such as the solution you were using.


WebMD Medical Reference



Bradford, C. (Editor) Basic Ophthalmology, American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2004, pp 75-88.

WebMD Medical Reference provided in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic: "Conjunctivitis."

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