Treat Bacterial Infections
Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are extremely contagious. A viral infection just has to run its course, but you can prevent spreading bacterial-caused pink eye by treating it appropriately. Infants and contact-lens wearers are more susceptible to bacterial-based pink eye, which can often be differentiated from viral and allergic conjunctivitis by its heavy, greenish, sticky discharge. The only way to be certain whether your child's case is caused by bacteria, however, is to visit the pediatrician and allow him to swab the conjunctiva or the discharge draining from the eye. If it's bacterial, your child will probably be treated with eye drops.
Apply the eye drops by having your child recline in a comfortable chair or on the couch. Have him cover one eye with a cotton ball or gauze pad. Use a gloved hand to hold his other eye open gently. Lift the upper lid with your index finger and pull the lower lid down with your thumb. Use your other hand to squeeze the correct number of drops in his eye and have him transfer the cotton to this eye. Holding it against the eye can help prevent the drops from being expelled before they have a chance to work. Repeat this process with the other eye, but avoid touching your fingers or the dropper directly to the eye--this can spread the pink-eye infection.
Stay Home if you Have Pink eye
The most effective way to avoid spreading pink eye is to stay away from other people when you have it. Of course, if red, itchy eyes are pro forma for you during allergy season, it's okay to go places. Allergic conjunctivitis isn't contagious. But if you have a confirmed case of viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, stay home for the three to five days it typically takes for the infection's symptoms to subside. You can return to normal activities more quickly if you have a bacterial infection--as long as you've been using antibiotics eye drops or ointment for at least 24 hours and your symptoms have improved.
Practicing Preventive Measures can Prevent Re-Infection
Most cases of pink eye are spread by casual or secondary contact. Carried in the fluid that leaks from an infected person's eyes, the pink-eye viruses and bacteria can easily be transferred to common surfaces, linens, washcloths and towels. Encourage your child to wipe his weepy eyes with tissue, throw the tissue in the trash can and promptly wash his hands.
You can further avoid spreading the infection by frequently cleaning tables, counters, toys and doorknobs--especially those on the bathroom doors--with a bleach-and-water solution or a disinfectant spray. Though it may be a little extra work, wash your towels and linens daily until the infection has subsided and throw away any facial cosmetics the infected person uses. Not only can this prevent anyone else from getting the infection, but it can also prevent re-infection.