Are Eye Infections Contagious?


Yes, some eye infections can be highly contagious, even when symptoms have only just started to show. The most common, and most contagious, eye infection is bacterial or viral conjunctivitis which can easily be passed on from person to person. However, there are many ways of preventing the spread of eye infections and making them go away faster, from better eye hygiene to products that can relieve the gritty sensation. One important thing to note is that viral and bacterial infections are almost always contagious whereas infections caused by allergies are not (allergic conjunctivitis). 

What is Conjunctivitis?

There are a variety of different causes of conjunctivitis, with some cases being caused by viral and bacterial infections and other causes such as allergies and irritants. Usually, conjunctivitis affects one eye first and usually spreads to the other eye shortly after the infection begins.  The main symptoms of conjunctivitis are:

  • Redness and inflammation
  • Itchiness
  • Watering eyes
  • Sticky mucus surrounding the eye

How can I prevent Conjunctivitis?

There are a variety of ways to prevent conjunctivitis and they all relate to hygiene. This means avoiding touching your eyes with unwashed hands and minimise using or sharing items with an individual who has the infection, this is crucial as conjunctivitis can even spread from using the same towel.  Additionally try not to share eye drops, makeup, makeup brushes, and even pillows.

How did I get conjunctivitis?

Most of the viruses and bacteria are spread through contaminated objects and by rubbing your eyes with dirty hands. Sometimes individuals come into contact with infectious tears, eye discharge, respiratory discharge, and even fecal matter. There is a common misconception that conjunctivitis can cause vision problems but that rarely happens, and many people report these problems due to severe symptoms of eye-watering and mucus surrounding the eyes.

What are the different types of conjunctivitis:

  • Viral (most common, caused by adenovirus, but occasionally herpes simplex or zoster virus)
  • Bacterial (common among children)
  • Irritant (caused by irritants to the eyes such as dust, eyelashes, or harsh eye products)
  • Allergic (caused by pollen, fur, dust)

Which eye infections aren’t contagious?

A stye is an eye infection that doesn’t spread from person to person, this infection usually appears due to a blocked oil gland surrounding the eye area, which in rare cases can form a painful, and swollen bump that resembles a cyst. We recommend seeing a professional, to drain the abscess if the infection becomes severe and never pop it at home as this could lead to further infection and pain. A stye can be treated at home, by placing a warm washcloth over the eye, 3 times a day. The warmth of the washcloth helps the stye to rupture and drain the infection from the eye, this allows for the stye to pop on its own without you having to pop it yourself.

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