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How do I get rid of pink eye?

You can get rid of pink eye (conjunctivitis) in various ways, depending on the underlying cause of the problem. Since pink eye usually is associated with viral or bacterial eye infections, you should visit your eye doctor to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

Topical antibiotics often are prescribed to treat conjunctivitis caused by bacteria. If the cause of your pink eye is viral, you may need to wait it out for a few weeks while the disease runs its course.

You typically can't get rid of viral pink eye, but you can relieve symptoms through remedies such as eye drops containing antihistamines, decongestants or both.

You also can relieve symptoms through home remedies such as applying warm or cool compresses — whichever feels better — to the outer, closed eyelids.

If you have eye allergies, your eye doctor might recommend topical eye drops containing antihistamines to help stop your eye from reacting to allergens such as dust, pollen and pet dander. These types of eye drops are available in both over-the-counter and prescription formulas.

If someone in your household already has pink eye because of a contagious eye infection, the best way to avoid pink eye is to take preventive measures such as frequent hand washing, avoiding use of the same washcloths and towels, and frequent use of a disinfectant on countertops and other surfaces.

Above all, don't take chances with pink eye.

You should visit your eye doctor for an eye exam when you have a pink eye for any extended period of time or you suspect something beyond ordinary eye irritation is causing your problem.

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