4 Common Causes for the Transmission of Pinkeye

May 7th 2016

Viral and bacterial pinkeye infections can easily be spread from person to person, while allergic pinkeye infections are transmitted via airborne allergens. While pinkeye infections are usually not considered dangerous, the condition can cause uncomfortable symptoms and visual disturbances. By taking some simple preventative measures and practicing good hygiene, individuals can often minimize the chance of infection. If the infection is persistent, consult a medical professional for treatment.

Sharing Objects

Viral and bacterial pinkeye are transmittable from one person to another via contaminated objects. For example, if an infected individual touches his own eye and then touches an object, the object becomes contaminated. If a non-infected person comes in contact with the contaminated object and proceeds to rub their eyes or touch their face, the infection can easily be spread.

Coughing or Sneezing

Individuals with viral conjunctivitis can easily pass the virus onto others by coughing or sneezing. The virus is airborne, which means anyone who comes into contact with the droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes is at risk of infection.

Airborne Pollens, Dust and Pet Dander

Airborne pollens, dust and pet dander are common causes of allergic conjunctivitis, a condition in which the eyes become inflamed and "pink" when exposed to allergens. Allergic conjunctivitis is triggered by the body's immune response to external irritants, so it cannot be spread from person to person.

Herpes Exposure

Herpes infections can also cause viral pinkeye. The infection occurs when an individual is exposed to the herpes simplex virus and develops blisters or sores around the eye. In addition to inflammation and weeping, herpes conjunctivitis can also cause painful blisters on the eyelids.


While viral or bacterial pinkeye infections can occur in anyone, individuals can minimize their risk of exposure by taking some basic preventative measures. Antibacterial hand sanitizers and frequent hand washing can lower the risk of transmitting the infection after touching contaminated objects.

Individuals should also avoid sharing eye makeup, eye drops, towels and bedding with other individuals who may be infected. While allergic pinkeye infections can be more difficult to prevent, people who suffer from allergies may be able to minimize exposure by distancing themselves from known allergen sources. Discarding contact lenses following a pinkeye infection can also help to prevent recurrences.


Pinkeye, also referred to as conjunctivitis, is a severely contagious medical condition that causes inflammation, weeping, and swelling of one or both eyes. Bacteria, viruses and allergens can cause the condition. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and may require antibiotic treatment. Individuals can often prevent pinkeye infections by learning about the most common transmission methods and taking the appropriate steps to avoid exposure.

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