How Long Does Pink Eye Last?

For how long pink eye lasts depends upon what triggered it. Typical pink eye symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Lots of types of pink eye are contagious, however only after the symptoms emerge.

It appears people are not contagious during the incubation duration of pink eye — the time of approximately a few days between when they are exposed when the symptoms start.

If your pink eye is triggered by a common viral infection and no other complications occur, then your eyes need to clean up within a few days to two weeks.

Pink eye also can be brought on by bacterial conjunctivitis, which — even with treatment such as prescription antibiotic eye drops — can last up to a month or longer. However, with this kind of pink eye, people should no longer be contagious 24 hours after antibiotic treatment begins.

Photo of Pink Eye in men

See also: How Long Is Pink Eye Contagious in Children and Adults?

How long Do Different Types of Pink Eye Last?

With viral conjunctivitis, symptoms generally are worse beginning about three to five days after the eye infection begins.

You may need eye drops including decongestants or antihistamines to decrease inflammation and swelling, sometimes for as long as a couple of weeks. You are no longer contagious when your eyes look and feel normal once again.

If your eye infection is not due to viral or bacterial causes, then you may have allergic conjunctivitis.

In that case, pink eye from allergies to pollen, dust and animal dander can last forever, particularly depending upon the time of year.

Allergic conjunctivitis is not most likely to go away by itself unless you remove or avoid the cause of the reaction.

In the meantime, you might think about utilizing eye drops including antihistamines to alleviate symptoms of the allergy. Eye drops for allergic reactions are available over-the-counter or by prescription from your optometrist.

When in doubt about what’s triggering your pink eyes, always consult your optometrist.

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Comments: 1
  1. Adrian Wayne

    The viral form of pink eye is WAY wussy compared with the bacterial (conjunctivitis). I’ve had both. The viral one went away in a few weeks with no medication (would have disappeared faster but I continued to wear my contacts). Conjunctivits harm me SO bad, I literally could not open my eyes for 2 days due to the fact that the burning was so intense! You do not require eye drops for the viral, however you definintely provide for bacterial. If they offer you eye drops for the viral, it’s simply to allievate some of the symptoms.

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