ZocdocAnswersIs pink eye a dangerous eye infection?

Question

Is pink eye a dangerous eye infection?

I am a 28 year old woman with pink eye. The doctor told me it was very contagious and to wash my hands constantly. Can I still give it to my child?

Answer

Yes, you can still spread pink eye (known as conjunctivitis in the doctor world) to your daughter despite your best efforts to wash your hands frequently. It is highly contagious, but, fortunately, it is rarely dangerous when treated appropriately. Most often, it is caused by a common virus, or is even another sign of a cold or other upper respiratory tract infection. As such, it usually resolves by itself in about the same amount of time as a cold, and is simply an unsightly annoyance in the interim. Other times, it is caused by a bacteria. Bacterial infections will sometimes have more secretions and "gunk" that forms in your eye, and bacterial infections will require antibiotic drops to help clear the disease. Untreated, they can be problematic, but it sounds as if you have already seen a physician, who should be planning to follow up as needed if your symptoms don't improve shortly. As for your daughter, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching either your face or hers. Additionally, washing her hands frequently will be of good use in avoiding both this condition as well as the many others that she is likely to contract from her acquaintances.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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