How is Pink Eye Treated?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2018
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Pink eye, or conjunctivitis is essentially of two types, bacterial or viral. What type you have often dictates treatment for pink eye. In some cases, doctors simply wait for what they consider a viral infection to clear up without medication. Most of the time, you will use drops or ointment in your eyes to help speed recovery from the condition.

It is not always possible to tell when you have pink eye whether the cause is viral or bacterial. Some children get a bit of pink eye that flares up with a cold. This should always get medical attention, since the symptoms of conjunctivitis can indicate an ear infection, especially in small children. Unless you actually take swabs from the eye or test the blood to determine the nature of infection, most people are treated with antibiotic drops, especially if they don’t have other cold symptoms. In severe cases, people might take oral antibiotics to treat an infection.

Drops are prescribed for a specific period of time, and you should not deviate from the prescription. Even if your symptoms seem better in a day or two, stopping antibiotics for bacterial conjunctivitis can cause the symptoms to rebound and come back with much heartier germs to fight. This is the case with any antibiotic treatment you might take for the prescription. If the instructions are to finish the prescription, then don’t stop without discussing the matter with your doctor.


Ointments are placed directly in the eye, and these may be harder or easier, depending on the individual. You place a fingertip’s length of the ointment into the lower lid and then close the eye so the ointment diffuses. It can be challenging to place ointment on children’s eyes, since they may resist. On the other hand, unlike drops, you can usually tell if the ointment got into the child’s eye because it will look smeary, a bit greasy and may briefly obscure vision.

When the condition is not responding to treatment by drops or ointments, oral antibiotics are prescribed. This is usually the easiest method to deal with, from a perspective of physical comfort, and especially when dealing with children. Yet it is not the first line of approach to treat pink eye, and normally is the last method doctors will choose, unless the condition is accompanied by ear or sinus infections.

You can also help relieve the symptoms of viral pinkeye by using warm compresses on the eye several times a day. If the condition doesn’t clear within a day or two, you should still see a doctor, since viral forms can become bacterial conjunctivitis. With any type of pink eye, treatment recommendations will include minimizing face or hand contact with other people since conjunctivitis is highly contagious in most forms. If you are treating a child, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after applying drops or ointments, and instruct the child to keep their hands off their face as much as possible.


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Post 2

@Vogueknit17 -I guess it depends. I do find antibiotics pretty effective when treating a pink eye infection. Luckily I only had pink eye once and I remember having to throw out all of my eye makeup as a precaution.

I think that that hurt more than the pink eye itself. I also stayed home from work because pink eye is contagious and I did not want anyone from my job to get it.

Post 1

Sometimes the drops for bacterial pink eye do not actually help much; I was told I had that variety once when I was a child, but my pink eye symptoms persisted for several days after beginning drops. I would recommend trusting rest and relaxation unless it really will not go away without medication.

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