Tips for preventing infectious conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Acute infectious conjunctivitis (pink eye) is caused by bacteria or viruses and is extremely contagious. The microbes that cause pink eye spread primarily through direct contact of the eyes with infectious material. Contact can occur when touching or shaking hands with an infected person or touching an object or surface with germs on it, then touching your eyes before washing your hands.


Symptoms of conjunctivitis may include:

  • pink or red color in the white of the eye(s)
  • watery eyes
  • itchy or scratchy eyes
  • discharge from the eye(s)
  • crusting of eyelids or lashes

You can become contagious before the start of symptoms and may remain contagious up to 2 weeks after, especially when it is viral.

Preventing the Spread

Hand washing and proper hygiene practices are the best way to prevent infection.  For other tips on how to prevent the spread of infectious conjunctivitis, as well as other infections, visit the CDC website.

If you are infected, it is important to:

  • Avoid using pools or other shared aquatic spaces at least until the symptoms have resolved.
  • Know that antibiotic eye drops do not prevent the spread of conjunctivitis caused by viruses.
  • Avoid sharing prescription and over-the-counter eye drops, since the spout can come in contact with the eye.
  • Remove your contact lenses (if applicable) and wear glasses until one week after the problem is completely resolved.
  • Discard your contact lenses and all your contact lens solutions, and start with new lenses and fresh solutions when you resume wearing your lenses.

If you have symptoms of conjunctivitis, call University Health Services at 609-258-3141.

If you have questions or concerns about cleaning and disinfection procedures, call Environmental Health and Safety at 609-258-5294.