How long does pink eye last

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Pink eye is the layman’s term for the medical condition conjunctivitis, an infection of the outer protective layer of the eye. The characteristic symptoms of pink eye or conjunctivitis are redness of the affected eye, itchiness, tearing and greenish to yellowish discharge (in the case of bacterial conjunctivitis).

Pink Eye

There are three main types of pink eye according to the causative agent. These are the bacterial, viral and allergic pink eye. The first two types are considered to be contagious or communicable. However, viral conjunctivitis can disappear on its own when the virus is also gone. Bacterial conjunctivitis is best treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointment to kill the bacteria. Doctors can differentiate the type of pink eye through the color of the discharge. The bacterial conjunctivitis commonly has the greenish to yellowish discharge. Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by allergens such as dust, pollens and other substances by which the eyes were exposed. It is not contagious and it doesn’t make the eye produce discharges; it only makes the eye teary or watery. Symptoms are cured by taking or applying antihistamine medication.

Maybe you are wondering now how long does the pink eye last. When will the pink eye get better?

Actually, the length of time for the pink eye to disappear depends on some factors. One important factor is the cause of the infection. Just like what’s mentioned above, they are the bacteria, virus, and allergy.

For bacterial pink eye, most cases usually improve quickly after the start of the antibiotic treatment. Redness, eye discharge and irritation should start to improve within 24 to 48 hours. For patients without antibiotic therapy, recovery is achievable in 4 to 5 days. For those given with antibiotics immediately it is 3 to 4 days and with delayed antibiotic treatment it is 4 days. But although you can feel improvement in the symptoms, you should continue the antibiotic treatment as long as it is prescribed by the physician.

Viral pink eye can start to get better within a few days but there are cases that symptoms can actually get worse, usually for 4 to 7 days before it can completely improve. Some can reach up to 3 weeks usually accompanied with morning crusting.

Lastly, allergic pink eye can improve immediately (within 24 hours) as long as the allergen is removed or when given treatment such as antihistamine medication.

Signs and symptoms can last even up to 3 weeks. If you experience worsening of the symptoms, you better consult your health care provider to give you proper advice and treatment.

Remember that knowing important things about pink eye is not enough. What is more important is that you take good care of your eyes in order to avoid conditions such as this. Prevention is still better than cure, after all.  But in case, you already have symptoms of pink eye, make sure that you will not facilitate its spread by avoiding to touch it, washing your hands frequently and applying prescribed medications properly.

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