For viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, the typical treatment is to allow it to clear up naturally, according to Mayo Clinic. A doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment or eye drops for bacterial conjunctivitis to accelerate healing. Treating allergic conjunctivitis typically involves using prescription eye drops. Examples include eye drops that contain antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers for keeping allergic reactions at bay and eye drops that contain steroids, decongestants or other anti-inflammatories.
More than half of the cases of bacterial conjunctivitis go away within one to two weeks without treatment, notes Mayo Clinic. When taking antibiotic eye drops or ointments, symptoms usually subside within a few days. To prevent the infection from returning, patients must take the antibiotics according to the doctor's directions until the prescription period ends.
Viral conjunctivitis typically doesn't have a treatment option, states Mayo Clinic. If the cause of the conjunctivitis is the herpes simplex virus, a doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication. Viral conjunctivitis usually affects one eye first, and symptoms become evident in the other eye a few days later. It typically subsides naturally within one to two weeks.
Home remedies for alleviating the symptoms associated with conjunctivitis include applying a cool or warm, damp compress to closed eyelids for a few minutes multiple times throughout the day, removing contact lenses, and administering eye drops, recommends Mayo Clinic. Avoiding triggers, showering before bed and washing clothes often may relieve allergic conjunctivitis.