How Long Does It Take for Pinkeye to Go Away?

Last Editorial Review: 10/8/2018

Ask the experts

I have pinkeye that I got from my first grader, but I have an important presentation for work tomorrow. How do you get rid of pinkeye overnight? How long does it take for pinkeye to go away?

Doctor's response

The amount of time it takes to recover from pinkeye depends on the cause of the inflammation. Most uncomplicated cases of pinkeye heal completely without long-term complications. Pinkeye that is related to underlying diseases may recur over time. Some serious infections of the eye may lead to vision loss when not treated properly, so it is important to seek care for severe or persistent pinkeye, or pinkeye that is associated with decreased vision.

The leading cause of an inflamed, red eye is viral infection. Adenoviruses are the type of virus that is most commonly responsible for the infection. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and typically remains contagious for 10 to 12 days after the onset of symptoms. The symptoms of viral pinkeye can last one to two weeks. Symptoms are pronounced for the first three to five days after symptoms appear, with slow resolution over the following one to two weeks.

Home treatment for pinkeye should not be a substitute for seeking the advice of a health-care professional, and it is important to take all medications as prescribed and to follow a health-care professional's instructions for managing the condition. However, there are home remedies to help relieve the symptoms of pinkeye. Moist warm compresses applied to the eyes can help relieve symptoms. OTC treatments like artificial tears (eye drops) can also bring relief. Do not wear contact lenses until the pinkeye has resolved. A health-care professional can offer guidance about when it is safe to resume the use of contact lenses. Eye makeup and cosmetic creams should also be avoided in the eye area until the symptoms and signs have resolved.


Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Boyd, Kierstan. "Conjunctivitis: What Is Pink Eye?" American Academy of Ophthalmology. Mar. 1, 2017.

Yeung, Karen K. "Bacterial Conjunctivitis." Dec. 4, 2015. <>.