Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Pink Eye From Bacteria in Teens: Care Instructions

Main Content

Pink Eye From Bacteria in Teens: Care Instructions

Picture of a healthy eye and an eye with pink eye


Pink eye is a problem that many teens get. In pink eye, the lining of your eyelid and the eye surface become red and swollen. The lining is called the conjunctiva (say "kawn-junk-TY-vuh"). Pink eye is also called conjunctivitis (say "kun-JUNK-tih-VY-tus").

Pink eye can be caused by bacteria, a virus, or an allergy.

Your pink eye is caused by bacteria. This type of pink eye can spread quickly from person to person, usually from touching.

Pink eye from bacteria usually clears up 2 to 3 days after you start treatment with antibiotic eyedrops or ointment.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Use antibiotics as directed

If the doctor gave you antibiotic medicine, such as an ointment or eyedrops, use it as directed. Do not stop using it just because your eyes start to look better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics. Keep the bottle tip clean.

To put in eyedrops or ointment:

  • Tilt your head back and pull your lower eyelid down with one finger.
  • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
  • Close your eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
  • Do not touch the tip of the bottle or tube to your eye, eyelid, eyelashes, or any other surface.

Make yourself comfortable

  • Use moist cotton or a clean, wet cloth to remove the crust from your eyes. Wipe from the inside corner of your eye to the outside. Use a clean part of the cloth for each wipe.
  • Close your eyes and put cold or warm wet cloths on them a few times a day if your eyes hurt or are itching.
  • Do not wear contact lenses until your pink eye is gone. Clean the contacts and storage case.
  • If you wear disposable contacts, get out a new pair when your eyes have cleared and it is safe to wear contacts again.

Prevent pink eye from spreading

  • Wash your hands often. Always wash them before and after you treat pink eye or touch your eyes or face.
  • Don't share towels, pillows, or face cloths while you have pink eye. Use clean linens, towels, and face cloths each day.
  • Do not share your contact lens equipment, containers, or solutions.
  • Do not share your eye medicine.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain in your eye, not just irritation on the surface.
  • You have a change in vision or a loss of vision.
  • Your eye gets worse or is not better within 48 hours after you started antibiotics.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter F054 in the search box to learn more about "Pink Eye From Bacteria in Teens: Care Instructions".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.