To prevent contagious forms of conjunctivitis, people should avoid direct contact with secretions from an infected individual and practice good hygiene, advises EyeSmart. Contact lens wearers should clean their lenses properly and avoid wearing contact lenses that do not fit correctly. To avoid spreading conjunctivitis, infected individuals should wash their hands frequently, refrain from touching their eyes, and avoid reusing towels, tissues and washcloths. Children with contagious conjunctivitis should stay home from school and day care until their infection clears.
Conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as pink eye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is a membrane that covers the white of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids, according to EyeSmart. Bacterial conjunctivitis, viral conjunctivitis and allergic conjunctivitis are the three most common forms of the condition.
Bacterial conjunctivitis and viral conjunctivitis are both highly contagious, explains EyeSmart. Bacterial conjunctivitis typically causes the affected eye to turn red and fill with pus, while viral conjunctivitis usually causes redness and a watery mucous discharge. Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis cause crusting of the eyelids, and some patients experience blurred vision as a result of mucus or pus buildup. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs due to contact with an allergen and results in significant itching.
Viral conjunctivitis usually clears on its own in one to two weeks, notes EyeSmart. Bacterial conjunctivitis typically requires treatment with antibiotics.