How Long Does Pink Eye Last And How to Fix It

29.08.2023 | Leah | TTDeye Care

In case you’re wondering ‘how long does pink eye last', it should be noticed that the duration of a pink eye will depend on the actual cause of the infection. Pink eye, commonly known as conjunctivitis, can generally last between a few days to a few weeks.

The condition of pink eye is usually contagious, but that only happens after the main symptoms start to emerge. During the incubation period, you'll not be contagious. However, that might change after a few days when the symptoms will appear.

Pink eye is caused by two types of infection - viral and bacterial. Viral infections will go away in a few days while bacterial ones can last longer.

What is pink eye

Knowing the Differences Between a Bacterial & Viral Pink Eye

A viral pink eye takes place when a virus spreads from your nose to your eyes. Sometimes, a viral pink eye is also caused by the spread of viruses when someone coughs, sneezes and the virus comes into your eyes.

Bacterial pink eye, on the other hand, is caused by the spread of bacteria from your skin or respiratory system to your eyes. This can happen in any of the following ways:

  • Using cosmetics that have been contaminated with bacteria.
  • Touching your face with dirty hands.
  • Using or sharing personal items from a person who is already suffering from pink eye.

Both of the above conditions generally start as a sore throat or through the cold. Furthermore, some of the common symptoms that both situations would show are:

  • Eyes will become pink or red in color.
  • The feeling of itchiness.
  • A swelling and scratchy feeling in the affected eye(s).
  • A burning sensation in the eyes.
  • Eye discharge.
  • Crusting of the lashes or eyelids.

How to Know Which Pink Eye You Have?

The following are some of the simple ways through which you’ll be able to know what type of pink eye you’re currently experiencing:

For a viral pink eye

  • The condition starts with one eye generally and then quickly spreads to the other one.
  • Makes the eye discharge watery substances.
  • The condition mainly starts with a respiratory or cold infection.

For a bacterial pink eye

  • Generally, the condition starts with an ear or respiratory infection.
  • It can affect one eye or both eyes.
  • The eyes discharge thick pus that makes them stick together.

In case the above information is not enough, you can consult with your eye doctor. By consulting with a doctor, you'll be able to quickly know what type of condition you're currently facing, as they'll be taking samples from your eyes for testing purposes.

How Long Does the Pink Eye Last?

The overall duration of your pink eye condition will depend on how you prefer to treat it. Most of the time, a pink eye clears up within two weeks. The following guide should help you out:

  • A pink eye that has been caused by viruses generally lasts for around 7 to 14 days. This is caused by viruses known as Herpes Virus and Adenovirus.
  • Bacterial pink eye is mainly caused by bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumonia or Staphylococcus aureus. By using antibiotics, you can clear up the infection within 24 hours of usage. In case you don't resort to using medicines, then it takes around ten days to be fixed.

Most of the time, the symptoms will start improving within three to seven days. Furthermore, as long as you have tearing, redness, and crusting, the conditions will be contagious too. Antibiotics might help in clearing the infection faster but will not work for viral pink eye infections.


How to Fix a Pink Eye?

Since the condition will be solved within some days to two weeks, the following are some of the actions that you can do for a pink eye remedy:

  • Use a wet cloth or a tissue to clean your discharge from the eyes.
  • To prevent your eyes from getting dried up, you need to use lubricating drops for the eyes or artificial teardrops. Once your infection subsides, throw out the bottle.
  • To reduce the swelling in your eyes, you need to hard press warm or cold packs to your eye - as the moisture will act on your eyes.

If you’re suffering from a severe condition of pink eye, then you need to ask your healthcare provider to provide you with relevant medicines for the same:

  • Eye drops are antibiotics or even antibiotic ointments that can help in treating severe cases of bacterial pink eye.
  • A viral pink eye that has been caused by the varicella-zoster virus or the herpes simplex virus will generally respond to medicines that are anti-viral in nature.

In case you want to steer clear from getting reinfected again, you need to take the following steps once your condition improves:

  • Do not use any infected makeup applicator or eye makeup and thereby dispose of them immediately.
  • Disinfect as well as clean your eyeglasses, and contact lenses along with their cases.
  • Throw out any eye solution or medicines that you’ve been using while you were affected.

How Can You Prevent a Pink Eye?

To avoid pink eye:

  • Always keep your reading glasses and contact lenses clean.
  • Don’t rub or touch your eyes with unwashed hands.
  • Keep your hands clean most of the time.
  • Don't share personal things with others.
  • Keep your bed sheets, and pillow covers clean.


Nevertheless, it should be remembered that pink eye is indeed a common eye infection that is thereby often caused by viruses or even bacteria. Most of the time, the effect will be mild and will thus improve on its own without any medicines or antibiotics. But, sometimes you need the utmost care. With our above informative guide, we are happy to provide you with all the required know-how you need to know.

For more information, you can check the video below: