Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Pink eye treatment is usually focused on symptom relief. Your doctor may recommend using artificial tears, cleaning your eyelids with a wet cloth, and applying cold or warm compresses several times daily.

If you wear contact lenses, you'll be advised to stop wearing them until treatment is complete. Your doctor will likely recommend that you throw out contacts you've worn if your lenses are disposable.

Disinfect hard lenses overnight before you reuse them. Ask your doctor if you should discard and replace your contact lens accessories, such as the lens case used before or during the illness. Also replace any eye makeup used before your illness.

In most cases, you won't need antibiotic eyedrops. Since conjunctivitis is usually viral, antibiotics won't help, and may even cause harm by reducing their effectiveness in the future or causing a medication reaction. Instead, the virus needs time to run its course — up to two or three weeks.

Viral conjunctivitis often begins in one eye and then infects the other eye within a few days. Your signs and symptoms should gradually clear on their own.

Antiviral medications may be an option if your doctor determines that your viral conjunctivitis is caused by the herpes simplex virus.

Treatment for allergic conjunctivitis

If the irritation is allergic conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe one of many different types of eyedrops for people with allergies. These may include medications that help control allergic reactions, such as antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers, or drugs that help control inflammation, such as decongestants, steroids and anti-inflammatory drops.

Over-the-counter eyedrops that contain antihistamines and anti-inflammatory medications also may be effective. Ask your doctor if you're not sure which product to use.

You may also reduce the severity of your allergic conjunctivitis symptoms by avoiding whatever causes your allergies when possible.

June 20, 2017