Pink Eye - Symptoms

Not ready to share? Read other Patient Comments

How long did the symptoms of your pink eye last? Was there anything in particular that helped with pain/symptom relief?

Share your story with others:

MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.Patient Comments FAQs

Enter your Comment

Tell us a bit about your background to make your comments more useful to other MedicineNet users. (Optional)

Screen Name: *

Gender of Patient: Male Female

Age Range of Patient:

I am a: Patient Caregiver


* Screen Name will appear next to the published comment. Please do not include your full name or email address.

By submitting your comment, and other materials (collectively referred to as a "Submission") to MedicineNet, you grant MedicineNet permission to use, copy, transmit, publish, display, edit and modify your Submission in connection with its Web site. MedicineNet will not pay you for your Submission. You represent that you have all rights necessary for MedicineNet to use your Submission as set forth above.

Please keep these guidelines in mind when writing your comment:

  • Please make sure you address the question asked.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of comments received, not all comments will be published.
  • When selecting comments to publish, our staff will choose those that are educational and complement the topic. Please try to stay on topic.
  • Your comment may be edited. We would typically edit comments to make them clearer and more readable. We will remove personal information such as last names, email and web addresses, and other potentially harmful information.
  • We will not notify you if your comment has been published. We suggest that you check back on the topic article regularly.
  • We do not provide medical or healthcare advice, treatment, or diagnosis.

Thank you for participating!


I have read and agree to abide by the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and the MedicineNet Privacy Policy (required).

To prevent our systems from spam, please complete the following prior to submitting your comment.

Please select the white square:

What infections cause pink eye, what are infectious pink eye symptoms, and how are they treated?

Viral pink eye

The leading cause of a red, inflamed eye is virus infection. Adenoviruses are the type of virus that is most commonly responsible for the infection. Other viruses that can cause pink eye include herpes simplex virus (HSV), varicella-zoster virus (VZV), poxvirus (molluscum contagiosum, vaccinia), picornavirus (enterovirus 70, Coxsackie A24), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Viral pink eye symptoms are usually associated with more of a watery discharge that is not green or yellow in color. Viral pink eye is most common in late fall and early spring. Often, viral "cold-like" symptoms, such as sinus congestion and runny nose, are also present. The eyelids may be swollen. Sometimes looking at bright lights is painful.

While viral pink eye may not require an antibiotic, those affected should see a doctor, as occasionally this form of pink eye can be associated with infection of the cornea (the clear portion of the front of the eyeball). This infection must be correctly detected and treated. Viral pink eye is highly contagious and typically remains contagious for 10 to 12 days after the onset of symptoms. The symptoms of viral pink eye can last 1 to 2 weeks. Symptoms are pronounced for the first three to five days after symptoms appear, with slow resolution over the following one to two weeks.

Bacterial pink eye

Staphylococci and Streptococci, are types of bacteria that commonly cause pink eye. Gonococci and chlamydia may also cause bacterial pink eye. Symptoms of pink eye caused by bacteria occur rapidly and can include

  • eye pain,
  • swelling,
  • itching,
  • redness,
  • a moderate to large amount of discharge, usually thick and yellow or greenish in color,
  • swelling of the lymph nodes in front of the ears.

The discharge commonly accumulates after sleeping. Affected children may awaken most unhappy that their "eyes are stuck shut," requiring a warm washcloth applied to the eyes to remove the discharge. Bacterial pink eye is treated by repeated warm washcloths applied to the eyes (try applying these to your child's eye one eye at a time during a favorite video) and requires antibiotic eyedrops or ointment prescribed by the doctor.

Picture of Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis
What does pink eye look like?

Be careful not to use medication prescribed for someone else, or from an old infection, as these may be inappropriate for your current infection or may have been contaminated from other infections by accidentally touching the medicine bottle to infected areas. A safe, effective, and potentially less frightening method of putting drops into the eyes of children involves asking your child to lie down flat, with instructions to merely "close your eyes," and placing the recommended number of drops in the inner corner of the eye, next to the bridge of the nose, and letting them make a little "lake" there. When your child relaxes and opens the eyes, the medicine will flow gently into the infected mucous membranes without the need to "force open" the eyes.

When you feel that you or your child might have bacterial pink eye, it is very important to see your doctor immediately for several reasons. First, if the cause is a bacterial infection, an antibiotic will be needed to help the infection-fighting immune system to kill this infection. Secondly, if you are experiencing other symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, earache, etc., there is a good chance that these symptoms are caused by the same bacteria, and an oral antibiotic may also be needed to treat this infection along with the antibiotic drops or ointment for the eyes. Oral antibiotics are also required for some types of bacterial pink eye. Finally, your doctor will want to exclude the possibility that the infection has spread to areas where the symptoms may not yet be recognizable.

Chlamydia pink eye

Pink eye due to infection with chlamydia is an uncommon form of bacterial pink eye in the U.S., but it is very common in Africa and Middle Eastern countries. Chlamydia can cause pink eye in adults and neonates. It is a cause of pink eye in adolescents and adults that can be sexually transmitted. Chlamydia pink eye is typically treated with erythromycin (E-Mycin, Eryc, Ery-Tab, PCE, Pediazole, Ilosone) or oral tetracycline (Sumycin), except in children less than 8 years of age, because of possible discoloration of the teeth.

Return to Pink Eye

See what others are saying

Comment from: pirategirl007, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: March 24

I'm currently suffering from my fifth case of pink eye in 12 months. I am 28 and never had pink eye as a child. I am an avid hand washer and am not around children frequently. I can manage to stay away from colds, viruses, flus and the like at work, but pink eye keeps plaguing me. I initially picked up my first case at work about three or four years ago, but this past year has been horrendous. I am not in contact with many people directly at work (about 10 a day) but work in a rather large complex with many more employees. Usually, my symptoms last two to three days after starting the antibiotic drops and then drastically improve. This time that is not the case. I am on my fifth day of antibiotics, and after having relief on the second and third days, my eyes have now flared up worse than before I started the medication. I think it's back to the doctor for me tomorrow. I am starting to think this outbreak is allergic conjunctivitis, and my current drops are just not going to help it.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: Caring retailer, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

I work in retail store for many years. While cleaning the glass countertops and sides, I sprayed so much Windex and on top of that, unknowingly I had to use the microscope to inspect some items. That was so filthy and dirty that I contracted the pink eye. So now I am home for 4 days straight in bed with plain eye drops and forcing myself to sleep through my pains. The allergy pills helped minimize the swelling and the runny nose. So beware! If you see any stores with very dirty glass countertops, do not touch.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

STAY INFORMED

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!