“Pink eye” (conjunctivitis) is a contagious illness causing an inflammation of the thin transparent outer layer of the eyeball and the inner layer of the eyelids. The inflammation causes redness of the eye and a watery or purulent drainage. Dried discharge on the eyelids/lashes is often noted upon awakening.
What is the incubation period? (How long after contact can illness develop?)
The incubation period varies from 1-12 days depending on the cause — bacterial, viral or allergic.
How is the infection spread?
The infection is spread through contact with secretions from eyes of an infected person or contaminated surfaces.
When is the child most contagious?
Depending on the cause, the child can be contagious for up to two weeks.
When can the child return to school?
The child may return when the student has been on medication for 24 hours or on the recommendation of the child’s physician. Bacterial conjunctivitis requires antibiotic treatment.
How can spreading the infection be prevented?
You can prevent the spread of infection through:
- Good hand washing and hygiene; especially after children touch their faces or before they have contact with others.
- Proper disposal of soiled tissues
- Proper disinfection of surfaces and toys.
- Avoiding sharing linens.