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Pink Eye Treatment

Depending on the specific cause of pink eye, treatment may involve ointments or eyedrops. Since there is no cure for viral conjunctivitis, you can only relieve the symptoms while the infection improves on its own. Pink eye caused by allergies is treated with basic eye care and medicines that relieve symptoms. For bacterial conjunctivitis, antibiotic drops or ointments are often used.

An Overview of Treatment for Pink Eye

There are several different causes of a red or pink eye. The most common is a medical condition known as conjunctivitis, which is why it is often just called "pink eye."
Pink eye treatment will depend on what is actually causing the symptoms. Three common conditions are viral, bacterial, and allergic conjunctivitis. For this particular article, we will talk about treatment options for these three main types.

Treating Viral Pink Eye

There is no cure for pink eye caused by a virus (known medically as viral conjunctivitis). Therefore, healthcare providers will treat the symptoms as the body takes care of the infection on its own.
If you or your child is diagnosed with viral conjunctivitis, you can try any of the following to help relieve itching or irritation:
  • Over-the-counter antihistamine/decongestant drops. These are available at your pharmacy and go by several names, including Ocuhist®, Naphcon-A®, and Visine® AC, to name a few.
While these medicines can help with symptoms, they do not make the infection go away any faster. Because viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious, make sure to use the drops only in the affected eye and wash your hands afterward. There are also other things that you should do to minimize the chances of spreading it to the other eye or another person (see Pink Eye Prevention)
  • Warm or cool compresses. These can be used several times a day for one to two weeks (see Home Treatment for Pink Eye for other helpful suggestions).
  • Artificial tears. A number of different brands are available at the pharmacy without a prescription. Use these throughout the day.
In some cases, a healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic, even if he or she believes that the pink eye is viral. This antibiotic will have no effect on the course of the condition.
For a person with viral pink eye, symptoms can get worse for four to seven days before getting better. The symptoms may also continue for up to three weeks. If they get significantly worse during this time, contact your healthcare provider.
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