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Pink eye: How long is it contagious?

Medically reviewed on June 26, 2018

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) generally remains contagious as long as your child is experiencing tearing and matted eyes. Signs and symptoms of pink eye usually improve within three to seven days.

The safest way to prevent spreading pink eye is to stay home — or keep your child at home — until eye discharge has stopped. Most schools and child care facilities require that your child wait at least 24 hours after starting treatment before returning to school or child care. Check with your doctor if you have any questions about when your child can return to school or child care.

Keep in mind that pink eye is no more contagious than the common cold. It's OK to return to work, school or child care if you're not able to take time off — just stay consistent in practicing good hygiene, including hand-washing after touching the eyes.

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