Regardless of the cause of conjunctivitis, NYU Langone ophthalmologists often recommend at-home treatments to alleviate discomfort and prevent a recurrence. These treatments may be recommended on their own, or in combination with medication.
To relieve the discomfort associated with viral, bacterial, or allergic conjunctivitis, your NYU Langone ophthalmologist may recommend applying either a warm or cold compress—a moist washcloth or hand towel—to your closed eyelids three or four times a day.
Warm compresses help to reduce the sticky buildup of discharge on the eyelids or crust that forms on your eyelashes, while cold compresses help to relieve itching and inflammation.
If you have allergic conjunctivitis, it’s important to avoid rubbing the eye, since this can worsen your symptoms.
If you only have conjunctivitis in one eye, avoid touching both eyes with the same cloth to reduce the risk of spreading the condition from one eye to the other.
If you’ve been diagnosed with viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, your doctor may recommend removing contact lenses and wearing glasses instead for 10 to 12 days, or until the condition has gone away.
Rarely, previously worn contact lenses may be a source of reinfection. For this reason, your doctor may ask you to carefully disinfect or discard those lenses and even their cases.
For some people, eye makeup may be a source of contamination and reinfection, so your doctor may recommend that you discard certain products.
When you’re exposed to allergens, your body releases a chemical called histamine, causing redness, tears, and itching in the eye. For conjunctivitis caused by a mild irritant, like shampoo or perfume spray, sometimes rinsing the eye with cold or lukewarm water for at least five minutes can help relieve the discomfort.
If you know what triggers symptoms of conjunctivitis, avoid them if possible. If you are prone to allergic conjunctivitis, for instance, limit the amount of time you spend outside when pollen or ragweed levels are high, or take allergy medications that can help prevent symptoms.
Keeping the windows and doors closed during seasons with high pollen counts can prevent allergens from entering your home. Try not to let dust gather at home, and treat any mold.
Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.