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Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis) - Topic Overview

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If the pinkeye is caused by an allergy or chemical, it will not go away until you avoid whatever is causing it.

Home treatment of pinkeye symptoms can help you feel more comfortable while the infection goes away.

  • Wash your hands often. Always wash them before and after you treat pinkeye or touch your eyes or face.
  • Use moist cotton or a clean, wet cloth to remove crust. Wipe from the inside corner camera.gif of the eye to the outside. Use a clean part of the cloth for each wipe. If the infection is in only one eye, be careful not to spread it to the other eye.
  • Put cold or warm wet cloths (whichever feels better) on your eye a few times a day if the eye hurts.
  • Do not wear contact lenses until the pinkeye is gone. Sterilize your contacts, and clean your storage case. If you wear disposable contacts, use a new pair when your eye has cleared and it is safe to wear contacts again. Wait at least 2 days after the symptoms are gone before you wear contacts again.
  • If the doctor gave you antibiotic eyedrops or ointment, use them as directed. Use the medicine for as long as instructed, even if your eye starts to look better sooner. Keep the bottle tip clean, and do not let it touch the eye area.
  • Do not wear eye makeup until the pinkeye is gone. Throw away any eye makeup you were using when you got pinkeye.
  • Do not share towels, pillows, or washcloths while you have pinkeye.
  • Use allergy eyedrops and medicines to reduce symptoms of pinkeye caused by allergies.

How can you avoid spreading pinkeye?

Pinkeye caused by a virus or bacteria is spread through contact with the eye drainage. Touching an infected eye leaves drainage on your hand. If you touch your other eye or an object when you have drainage on your hand, you can spread the virus or bacteria.

Follow these tips to help prevent the spread of pinkeye:

  • Wash your hands before and after you touch your eyes or face or use medicine in your eyes.
  • Do not share eye makeup.
  • Do not share contact lens equipment, containers, or solutions.
  • Do not share eye medicine.
  • Do not share towels, bed linens, pillows, or handkerchiefs. Use clean linens, towels, and washcloths each day.

Some schools ask that children with pinkeye be kept at home until they are better or have started antibiotic treatment.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 02, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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