Should I Go to Urgent Care for Pink Eye?

A man with both eyes open holds his hand to his left cheek. His left eye is reddened and bloodshot.

Are your eyes itchy, red, watery, or burning? You may have pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is a common condition and can be treated in an urgent care setting. If you are experiencing acute pain in one or both eyes and changes in your vision, you should visit an emergency room, as this can indicate a more serious condition.

What Is Pink Eye?

Pink eye is a common medical condition that can afflict people of all ages, though children are more often affected than adults.

How Do You Get Pink Eye?

In the case of allergic conjunctivitis, your body’s reaction to an allergen causes a release of histamine. Redness, itching, and watering may follow. Common allergens include pollen from plants or trees and allergens from pets.

Pink eye with a viral cause is simply a symptom of a viral infection. Various common viruses can cause viral conjunctivitis, including the common cold and RSV. These viruses spread through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing.

Pink eye caused by bacteria, or bacterial conjunctivitis, results from bacteria invading the conjunctiva, the outside part of the eye. These bacteria come from the eyes of another person with bacterial conjunctivitis and can be carried on unwashed hands or contaminated contact lenses. A sexually transmitted infection can also result in bacterial conjunctivitis in some instances.

It is important to note that both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are contagious. Washing your hands frequently, not sharing towels or washcloths, washing pillowcases, and covering coughs or sneezes are vital in preventing the spread of both conditions. If you wear contacts, your provider may also recommend not using them during recovery.

Pink Eye Symptoms

Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis typically include redness, itching, and watering. Viral conjunctivitis may involve these same symptoms and can also result in dried, crusty matter on your eyelids upon waking. Bacterial conjunctivitis typically includes symptoms similar to viral but often presents with more discharge.

Pink Eye Treatment

Treatment for pink eye depends on its cause. Allergic conjunctivitis can be relieved with antihistamine eye drops, oral antihistamines, or avoidance of known allergens. Viral conjunctivitis will resolve once the virus runs its course, which can take up to two or three weeks. In the meantime, cleaning the eyes with a warm, clean washcloth and getting plenty of rest can help. Providers may order antibiotic drops for bacterial conjunctivitis, which is less common than viral.

Can I Go to Urgent Care for Pink Eye?

If you are experiencing ongoing symptoms of conjunctivitis, coming to urgent care is a good idea. Your provider can assess your symptoms, order tests as needed, diagnose the cause of your pink eye, and provide appropriate treatment. If you are experiencing acute pain in your eyes and changes to your vision, it would be better to seek emergency treatment.

At Getwell Urgent Care, we strive for fast and excellent care. If you need urgent care for pink eye treatment, visit us today.