Conjunctivitis, which is often called "pink eye," is an inflammation of the outside lining of the eye. It causes redness, itching, burning, crusting or a greenish-yellow drainage from the eye. Conjunctivitis may be due to a bacterial or viral infection or occasionally an allergy. The great majority of "pink eye" infections are caused by a common cold virus, which makes the condition quite contagious, even with the use of eye drops.

Fortunately, it is extremely rare in the United States for conjunctivitis to cause any damage to the eye and it nearly always goes away, even without treatment.

Nevertheless, it is important to distinguish this condition from other eye problems that can be more serious, especially if the person wears contact lenses.

Home Care for Conjunctivitis

  • If you have been prescribed medication, use it as directed. DO NOT let anyone else use your medication.

  • Gently wipe any drainage from eyes with warm wet cloth or disposable towel.

  • Take precautions to prevent spread to other family members: wash your hands frequently, don't touch your eyes if not necessary, and use your own towel, washcloth and pillow. Towel and washcloth should go directly to laundry after use.

  • Do not use eye make-up or contact lenses until inflammation and drainage is completely cleared.

  • You should see improvement in 2-5 days. Call your primary care physician if not better in 5-7 days. If you do not have one we can assist you in finding one.


Call or Return If Any of the Following Occur:

  • Increasing eye pain, particularly when viewing bright light

  • Persistently blurred vision

  • Swollen lids associated with use of drops

  • Redness or tenderness extending onto the cheek or face

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