How long does pink eye last?

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These messages are for mutual support and information sharing only. Always consult your doctor before trying anything you read here.

If your pink eye is caused by a common viral infection and no other complications occur, then your eyes should clear up within a few days to two weeks. Pink eye also can be caused by bacterial conjunctivitis, which — even with treatment such as prescription antibiotic eye drops — can last up to a month or longer.

Some home treatments include: 

  • Apply a compress to your eyes. To make a compress, soak a clean, lint-free cloth in water and wring it out before applying it gently to your closed eyelids. Generally, a cool water compress will feel the most soothing, but you can also use a warm compress if that feels better to you. If pink eye affects only one eye, don't touch both eyes with the same cloth. This reduces the risk of spreading pink eye from one eye to the other.
  • Try eyedrops. Over-the-counter eyedrops called artificial tears may relieve symptoms. Some eyedrops contain antihistamines or other medications that can be helpful for people with allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Stop wearing contact lenses. If you wear contact lenses, you may need to stop wearing them until your eyes feel better. How long you'll need to go without contact lenses depends on what's causing your conjunctivitis. Ask your doctor whether you should throw away your disposable contacts, as well as your cleaning solution and lens case. If your lenses aren't disposable, clean them thoroughly before reusing them.
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