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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Treating conjunctivitis

Te whakarauora i te mate pīkaru

The treatment for conjunctivitis depends on what is causing it.

Allergic conjunctivitis

This type of conjunctivitis gets better when you avoid the things that cause the allergy. Anti-allergy eye drops or antihistamine tablets can reduce the allergic response and relieve your symptoms. Antibiotic eye drops do not help allergic conjunctivitis.

Viral conjunctivitis

There is no effective treatment for common viral conjunctivitis. In most cases, it gets better on its own over a few days.

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Most cases of bacterial conjunctivitis are mild and usually get better on their own within a few days.

Self-care for infectious conjunctivitis

Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are forms of infectious conjunctivitis, which means they can spread from one eye to another and from one person to another. You can care for yourself by carefully washing your eyes.

It's best to use surgical swabs from your pharmacist or disposable eye make-up removal pads, rather than cotton wool balls because they can unravel, leaving cotton in your eye.

Contact lens users

Reducing the spread of infectious conjunctivitis

Good hygiene can help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis.

It's best to keep young tamariki (children) with infectious conjunctivitis home from daycare or school if the eye is sticky or weeping, because the discharge is infectious.

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Content shared between HealthInfo Canterbury, KidsHealth and Health Navigator NZ as part of a National Health Content Hub collaborative. Last reviewed March 2023.


See also:

Eye drops & eye ointment

Page reference: 142404

Review key: HICJC-49685