Conjunctivitis, or “pink eye,” is an inflammation of the thin, transparent layer covering the whites of the eyes, called the conjunctiva. When the eye is irritated, the conjunctiva’s blood vessels dilate, causing the red or pink colour associated with conjunctivitis.
There are a few different types of conjunctivitis, and most of them are contagious. Although conjunctivitis is common among children, you could contract it at any age. The best way to avoid infection is to only touch your eyes and face with clean, freshly washed hands.
The different types of conjunctivitis include:
- Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a bacterial infection transmitted from contaminated makeup, unclean hands, or insects. Bacterial conjunctivitis is incredibly contagious but is generally mild and can be treated with antibiotics.
- Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a virus, like an upper respiratory infection. Viral conjunctivitis is also very contagious and is typically transmitted through the body’s mucous membranes or airborne exposure.
- Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by an allergic reaction to various irritants. It can be seasonal or year-round, depending on the allergy and prevalence of the allergen. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.
Chemical conjunctivitis is caused by exposure to irritants like pollution or chlorine in a swimming pool. This type of conjunctivitis is not contagious.