How Long Does Pink Eye Last?
When the condition is caused by a virus, pink eye can last for up to three weeks, although most people start to get better within days. Many cases of bacterial conjunctivitis improve quickly after starting antibiotics (typically within 24 to 48 hours). Pink eye from allergies may start to get better within 24 hours of the removal of the allergen.
How long pink eye will last depends on several factors. One primary factor is what is causing the symptoms: a virus, bacteria, or allergies.
Viral Pink Eye
Pink eye caused by a virus (viral conjunctivitis) can begin to get better within days, although symptoms can get worse for four to seven days before improving. Symptoms may continue for up to three weeks, with morning crusting usually lasting longer than the daytime redness, irritation, and tearing.
Bacterial Pink Eye
Most cases of bacterial conjunctivitis improve quickly after starting antibiotics for pink eye treatment. Within 24 to 48 hours, redness, irritation, and eye discharge should begin to improve.
Even as symptoms improve, you should continue to take your antibiotics for the full course.
Allergic Pink Eye
Pink eye from allergies (allergic conjunctivitis) may start to get better within 24 hours of the removal of the allergen (a normally harmless substance that can cause an allergic reaction in some people) or with treatment.
Symptoms of pink eye can last up for up to three weeks, with a minority of people not getting better even after two to three weeks of treatment.
For any type of pink eye, if symptoms get significantly worse, or if you are not seeing an improvement in symptoms, contact your healthcare provider (see When to See Your Doctor for Pink Eye for other reasons to see your healthcare provider).