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How effective are pinkeye treatments?

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Quick Answer

Treatments for pink eye, or conjunctivitis, are generally effective, and many people recover from pink eye without any medical intervention, notes the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some treatments for the condition include the use of artificial tears, cold packs, antibiotics and allergy medications, depending on its cause.

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Viral conjunctivitis typically clears up on its own within 14 days of infection without any type of treatment at all, advises the CDC. Stubborn cases may take up to three weeks for complete recovery. Treatment options include the use of cold packs and over-the-counter artificial tears to alleviate inflammation and dryness. For serious cases, doctors may prescribe antiviral medications.

Antibiotics can shorten the duration of bacterial conjunctivitis, and this also reduces the spread of the infection, reports the CDC. Doctors sometimes prescribe antibiotic ointments or eyedrops, while cold compresses can make the sufferer feel more comfortable until the condition subsides within a few days. Still, the CDC advises that mild cases may get better without any sort of antibiotic treatment.

Allergic conjunctivitis caused by exposure to allergens generally gets better when the allergen is removed from the equation, notes the CDC. For example, if pet dander is causing pink eye symptoms, then avoiding areas where pets live can cause improvement in symptoms. There are also prescription remedies, including vasoconstrictors, eyedrops and topical antihistamines that can provide relief.

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