Ask-A-Doc, June

Posted 10/07/19 (Mon)

Pink Eye Treatment: How Long Do Symptoms Last?

Answer from Dr. Tyrel Somers.

Q: How long should I keep my kid(s) out of school with conjunctivitis (Pink eye)?

A: 24 hours after treatment for bacterial pink eye, 3-14 days for viral cases.

A common misconception with pink eye (conjunctivitis) revolves around how long kids can pass the illness around. The biggest distinction that determines how long your child could spread the disease depends upon which type of conjunctivitis they have, whether viral or bacterial. 

Bacterial conjunctivitis commonly presents in one eye with thick mucus production. Their eye is often crusted shut and requires antibiotic treatment. Within 24 hours of treatment, infectivity should be reduced enough that your child can return to school. 

On the other hand, Viral conjunctivitis commonly presents with one eye irritated with a thin, watery discharge that within 24 to 48 hours can proceed to both eyes and can lead to eye crusting. Viral conjunctivitis is self-limiting and will not improve with antibiotics. This disease can take between 3-14 days to resolve, depending on the virus, with infectivity lasting until resolution occurs. ​

If your child is dealing with pink eye symptoms, please make an appointment at CFM for treatment.


The Ask-A-Doc posts from UND Center for Family Medicine brings knowledge from our experts direct to you. Our team is committed to improving your family’s overall health and answering the questions you have about wellness. Make an appointment today.