Allergic conjunctivitis may improve when allergies are treated. It may go away on its own when you avoid your allergy triggers. Cool compresses may help soothe allergic conjunctivitis.
Antibiotic medicines most often in the form of eye drops work well to treat bacterial conjunctivitis. Viral conjunctivitis will go away on its own. Mild steroid eye drops may help ease discomfort. Many doctors give mild antibiotic eye drops for pink eye to prevent bacterial conjunctivitis.
You can soothe the discomfort of viral or bacterial conjunctivitis by applying warm compresses (clean cloths soaked in warm water) to your closed eyes.
The outcome is most often good with treatment.
The infection can come back if you do not take steps to prevent it from spreading.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call with your health care provider if your symptoms last longer than 3 or 4 days or if your vision is affected.
Good hygiene can help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis. Things you can do include:
Change pillowcases often.
Do not share eye makeup and replace it regularly.
Do not share towels or handkerchiefs.
Handle and clean contact lenses properly.
Keep hands away from the eye.
Wash your hands often.
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Bhatt U, Lagnado R, Dua HS. Follicular conjunctivitis. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2013:vol 4, chap 7.
Rubenstein JB, Tannan A.. Conjunctivitis: Infectious and noninfectious. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 4.6.
Wright JL, Wightman JM. Red and painful eye. In Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 22.
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Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.