Is Conjunctivitis Contagious?

Conjunctivitis is very contagious if it is caused by a bacterial or viral infection. The bacteria or virus can be easily spread not only eye to eye but also person to person. Roughly half of all cases of conjunctivitis are bacteria related. This is because the eye is without a natural defence against bacteria. The natural chemicals in the conjunctiva, the inner lining of the eye, can neutralize some bacteria but at times it can be over whelmed with bacteria, causing conjunctivitis.

The tearing fluids and discharge put out by the eye when it is infected contains this bacteria. This is how it can be transmitted. The fluids are spread from eye to eye when the infected person rubs them. They are then spread from person to person when the infected rubs their eyes and touches surfaces such as door knobs. Conjunctivitis can also be spread when the bacteria is present on wash cloths and towels that the infected person has used.

Another twenty percent of conjunctivitis cases are caused by viral infections. Like bacteria, the virus is present in the eye fluid and discharge, making it highly contagious as well. Direct contact with an infected eye should be avoided. Any tissues, cotton or bandages that are used to treat the eye(s) should be carefully wrapped and disposed of properly

The spread of conjunctivitis is easily preventable. Sufferers need to avoid rubbing their eyes with their hands and any cloth used needs to be disposed of washed right away. They also need to be sure to wash their hands thoroughly often. No wash cloths or towels should ever be shared with other family members. Surfaces that come in contact with other should be disinfected regularly such as door knobs, telephones, toys and faucets.

While bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are both extremely contagious, if it is caused by an allergic reaction then it is not. Allergic conjunctivitis is simply an allergic reaction to a foreign body in the eye or an allergen. It usually clears up when the foreign body or allergen is removed. It can also be treated with antihistamines that stop the allergic reaction of the body. If you are unsure of the cause of the conjunctivitis, then all the above precautions still need to be taken to be sure that it is not spread.

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