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A to Z: Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye)

May also be called: Pinkeye

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation (redness and irritation) of the conjunctiva, the tissue covering the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid. Conjunctivitis is also called pinkeye because it usually makes the white part of eyes red.

More to Know

Many of the viruses that cause colds and other infections can cause conjunctivitis. Bacteria can cause some cases of pinkeye. Allergies or things in the environment that can irritate eyes also can cause pinkeye.

Pinkeye is contagious when caused by viruses and bacteria. It's not contagious when caused by allergies or environmental irritants.


Doctors usually recommend keeping kids diagnosed with contagious conjunctivitis out of school, childcare, or summer camp for a short time.

Keep in Mind

Pinkeye is a fairly common condition and usually causes no long-term eye or vision damage. Still, if your child shows symptoms of pinkeye, it's important to see a doctor.

To prevent pinkeye caused by germs (bacteria and viruses), teach kids to wash their hands& well and often with warm water and soap. They also should not share eye drops, tissues, eye makeup, washcloths, towels, or pillowcases with other people.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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