Pink eye (conjunctivitis) treatment available online today

Request treatment for conjunctivitis online from our trusted, board-certified primary care doctors and find relief today. Get a new prescription to treat conjunctivitis or refill an existing prescription today.*

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*Prescriptions are provided at the doctor's discretion. Learn more about our controlled substances policy and how to save up to 80% with our prescription discount card. PlushCare doctors cannot treat all cases of conjunctivitis. Our primary care physicians can conduct an initial evaluation of your symptoms but may need to refer you to a specialist or for in-person treatment. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Learn about conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is a common eye infection in children and adults. When a person develops pink eye, the conjunctiva—the tissue lining surface of the eyelid and inner coating of the eye—becomes inflamed. This tissue helps keep the eyelid and eyeball moist.

Pink eye can be caused by allergens, irritants, bacteria, or viruses. Viral pink eye infections are highly contagious and can spread rapidly in schools or daycare centers, where children may neglect proper hygiene routines. These are spread by contact, meaning someone touching/rubbing their infected eye can pass along the virus if they touch another person or surface.

There are several types of conjunctivitis, including:

  • Viral conjunctivitis – caused by a viral infection, quite common

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis – caused by a bacterial infection, quite rare

  • Allergic conjunctivitis – caused by allergens, very common

  • Irritant conjunctivitis – caused by irritants, common 

Conjunctivitis causes

  • Conjunctivitis happens when the blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed, leading to pink or reddish eyes. This inflammation can be caused by:

    • Viral infection: Most pink eye infections are viral. Viruses, including the common cold and COVID-19, can cause viral pink eye.

    • Bacterial infection: Bacterial pink eye occurs when skin bacteria like streptococcus and staphylococcus, including MRSA, multiply and form an infection. can happen when bacteria enter the eye through unclean hands, dirty washcloths, or shared eye cosmetics

    • Allergens: Allergens including pollen, mold, and animal dander, can cause allergic conjunctivitis.

    • Irritants: Irritating substances, such as contact lenses, smoke, dirt, and pool chlorine.

    • Sexually transmitted infections: STIs such as herpes simplex virus, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.

    • Foreign objects in the eye

    • Blocked or closed tear ducts in babies

Conjunctivitis symptoms

  • The most common symptoms of pink eye include:

    • Red, bloodshot eyes

    • Itchiness and irritation (gritty feeling)

    • Swelling in and around the eye(s)

    • Thin or thick clear to yellow discharge, which forms a crust overnight

    • Increased sensitivity to light

    • Tearing

    • A burning sensation, especially with pink eye caused by chemicals and irritants

    Bacterial pink eye includes fever, lots of pus draining from your eye, and significant levels of pain.

    Pink eye can affect one or both eyes. In most cases, pink eye in both eyes tends to indicate a viral infection and will often spread to both eyes.

How to treat conjunctivitis (pink eye)

  • The treatment of pink eye will depend on its cause. To determine the cause of pink eye, your doctor will examine your eyes. They may also recommend an eye chart test to see if your vision has changed.

    Treatment options for conjunctivitis include:

    • Bacterial conjunctivitis: Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic prescription in the form of eye drops, ointments, or medication. Take antibiotics as prescribed by your healthcare provider, even if your symptoms improve.

    • Viral conjunctivitis: Antibiotic eye drops and medications cannot treat viral infections. So, common pink eye needs time and gentle cleaning with warm compresses several times per day over the 5-14 days when symptoms may be present. However, your doctor may recommend antiviral medications for viral pink eye caused by a sexually transmitted infection, the herpes simplex virus, or the varicella-zoster virus. If there is a concern for either of these specific viruses by our Plushcare doctors, they will refer you to in-person care immediately, as they can be quite serious.

    • Irritant conjunctivitis: If you experience irritation after a substance gets into your eyes, rinse your eyes with warm water for 5 minutes. If your symptoms don't improve, call your doctor or go to an ER right away for evaluation

    • Allergic conjunctivitis: Your doctor will prescribe antihistamine eye drops to control your allergic reaction. In some cases, your doctor may also recommend anti-inflammatory drugs, such as steroids, to relieve symptoms.

    Although viralconjunctivitis is highly contagious, it's easily treatable, and most cases of pink eye can be prevented with simple precautions. Most cases of viral conjunctivitis will go away on their own within 2 weeks.

Conjunctivitis medication

Depending on the cause of your conjunctivitis, your doctor may recommend medications, such as:

    • Antibiotics in the form of medication, ointment, or eye drops for bacterial infections. It’s relatively rare to need antibiotics for pink eye, as bacterial conjunctivitis is less common. As above, symptoms will likely include a fever, lots of eye pain, and lots of pus draining from your eyes.

    • Antihistamine eye drops, prescription steroids, or decongestants for allergic conjunctivitis

    • Antiviral medications for viral infections caused by herpes simplex virus, varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox/shingles), or a sexually transmitted infection

How to prevent conjunctivitis

With so many causes, it's not always possible to prevent pink eye (conjunctivitis). However, practicing good hygiene can help control the spread of pink eye. Some precautions include:

  • Avoid touching your eyes with your hands.

  • Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap.

  • Use a clean towel and washcloth daily.

  • Don't share towels or washcloths with other members of your household.

  • Change your pillowcase regularly.

  • Throw away outdated eye makeup, such as eyeliner and mascara.

  • Don't share eye makeup or personal eye care items.

If you notice any symptoms of pink eye, seeking early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the condition from becoming worse.

If you or your child develops a bacterial or viral infection, your doctor may recommend staying home from work or school to avoid spreading infectious conjunctivitis.

When to see a doctor for conjunctivitis

If you experience any symptoms of conjunctivitis, it's important to talk to your doctor. Seek immediate medical care if you experience:

  • Severe pain

  • Blurred vision or vision loss

  • Light sensitivity

  • A feeling that something is stuck in your eye (foreign body sensation)

If you wear contact lenses, stop wearing contact lenses as soon as you notice the symptoms of pink eye. If your symptoms don't improve within 24 hours, talk to your eye doctor to make sure you don't have a serious infection related to contact lens use.

Conjunctivitis treatment FAQs

  • What does conjunctivitis look like?

    Pink eye (conjunctivitis) causes inflammation of the conjunctiva, which makes the whites of your eyes appear pink or reddish. In some cases, conjunctivitis can also cause swollen eyelids.

  • What is the best treatment for conjunctivitis?

    The best treatment for conjunctivitis depends on whether you have viral or bacterial conjunctivitis. However, you can relieve discomfort with home remedies, such as cold compresses and artificial tears.

    While antibiotics are the best treatment option for bacterial pink eye, your doctor may prescribe antihistamine eye drops to control allergic reactions, or recommend conservative measures. This is because most cases of viral pink eye do not require treatment, and viral pink eye is the most common form

  • How do you get rid of conjunctivitis fast?

    To expedite the healing process, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Your doctor can identify the underlying cause of your conjunctivitis. Then, they can prescribe medications (if appropriate) so you can relieve discomfort and start feeling better.

  • Will conjunctivitis go away by itself?

    Yes, most cases of pink eye (conjunctivitis) will go away without treatment. Mild cases of conjunctivitis usually don't require treatment, and most cases will clear up within a few days (for bacterial conjunctivitis) or 2 weeks (for viral conjunctivitis).

    Viral conjunctivitis doesn't require treatment unless the infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus, varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox/shingles), or sexually transmitted infections. In these cases, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to treat the infection after an in-person evaluation, which is critical for these cases.

  • How can you tell if conjunctivitis is viral or bacterial?

    The main difference between viral and bacterial pink eye is the length of the infection and the accompanying symptoms.

    Mild eye irritation, clear to yellow thin discharge that forms a crust any cold or upper respiratory symptoms, and lack of fever all indicate you probably have a viral pink eye infection. Bacterial conjunctivitis will likely include fever, pus draining from your eyes, and significant pain.

  • What over the counter drugs can I use for pink eye?

    While it's tempting to reach for quick relief at the pharmacy, there are no over-the-counter medications that can cure pink eye itself. There are some OTC products that can provide temporary relief of symptoms depending on the cause.

    For example, artificial tears can help soothe irritation and dryness caused by pink eye, regardless of the type (viral, bacterial, allergic). However, avoid using redness-reducing eye drops like Visine for pink eye. These can worsen irritation in the long run.

    It's best to see a doctor, online or locally for an accurate diagnosis. A doctor can determine the type of pink eye (viral, bacterial, allergic) and recommend the most effective treatment plan. Viral and bacterial pink eye require different approaches. If necessary, a doctor can prescribe antibiotic or antiviral eye drops to target the infection directly.

    Seeing a doctor online is fast and convenient. Our board-certified physicians are available 24/7 for consultations. Within an hour, you can discuss your symptoms, receive a diagnosis, and get a prescription for the right medication if needed.

3 simple steps to request treatment for conjunctivitis today 

Step 1

Book a conjunctivitis treatment request appointment.

Book a same day appointment from anywhere.

Step 2

Talk to your medical provider regarding your conjunctivitis symptoms.

Visit with a doctor on your smartphone or computer.

Step 3

Pick up a prescription to treat conjunctivitis, if deemed appropriate.

We can send prescriptions to any local pharmacy.

Related conditions to conjunctivitis

  • Common cold

    In some cases, the common cold can cause viral conjunctivitis, also called an "eye cold."

  • Stye

    Pink eye (conjunctivitis) and stye share common symptoms, including redness, light sensitivity, and crusting. However, a stye is marked by a painful red bump that forms either on or inside the eyelid.

  • Allergies

    In allergic conjunctivitis, the eye often feels itchy, with excessive discharge or tearing. Allergic reactions can also cause eye redness, light sensitivity, and swelling.

Conjunctivitis treatment pricing details

How pricing works

To request conjunctivitis treatment and get a new or refill on your prescription, join our monthly membership and get discounted visits

Paying with insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price with insurance

Often the same as an office visit. Most patients with in-network insurance pay $30 or less!

  • We accept these insurance plans and many more:

    • Humana
    • Aetna
    • Cigna

Paying without insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price without insurance

Initial visits are $129.

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If we're unable to treat you, we'll provide a full refund.


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PlushCare content is reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals. Learn more about our editorial standards and meet the medical team. The PlushCare site or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.