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How Is Pink Eye Spread?

Pink eye is the term used by most people to refer to the medical condition conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the thin piece of tissue that covers the whites of the eyes and the inner eyelids. There are several different types. Some of them are contagious, where a bacteria or virus causes the pink eye (bacterial conjunctivitis or viral conjunctivitis). Others are not contagious, being caused by allergies (allergic conjunctivitis).
How is pink eye spread? Both bacterial and viral types are spread by direct contact with infected eye secretions, or contact with objects or surfaces that have been contaminated with these eye secretions. Contaminated objects or surfaces might include:
  • Bedding
  • Pillows
  • Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Eye makeup
  • Tissues
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Contact lenses.
The virus or bacteria can be transmitted when an infected person touches their eye and then touches another surface, such as a door handle. It can also be spread when they share an object that has touched their eye, such as a washcloth or pillowcase.
(Click Pink Eye Transmission for more information on how this disease is spread and when symptoms typically start after initial transmission.)
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