Adenoviral Conjunctivitis Duration and Treatment

Adenoviral ConjunctivitisAdenoviral conjunctivitis is the most common form of pinkeye infection. Carrying a varying incubation period lasting between a few days and a couple weeks, viral conjunctivitis doesn’t come and go as quickly as anyone would like it to. Part of the reason pinkeye spreads so quickly is because many people don’t know the answer to question of how long is pinkeye contagious.

Unfortunately, this is a tricky question to answer. The simple response is that the condition is contagious so long as the eye is tearing up and creating discharge. While each person’s adenoviral conjunctivitis will resolve at its own pace, typically the contagious period lasts between three and seven days. Follicular conjunctivitis, sometimes an associated condition, can lengthen this time period as it increases the severity of many symptoms.

There is no magic cure for adenoviral conjunctivitis, and although home treatment can reduce the annoyance of symptoms, 2-4 weeks are usually required for the condition to fully resolve, and this can be longer in chronic cases. Antibiotics are only used if necessary to prevent or treat concurrent bacterial infections and eye drops can be used if recommended by your health care provider for comfort, although they provide little in the way of treatment. Many people find that a clean and warm compress soothes the affected areas, and keeping the eye clean by gently wiping away discharge and debris can help relieve irritation.

While the total course of adenoviral conjunctivitis can be lengthy, the period of remaining contagious is minimal, and most people can return to work or school within a week. Most schools and workplaces have policies in effect prohibiting people from coming to work during their contagious periods. A long incubation period combined with improper care and disregard for preventative measures for spreading create frequent family, school or workplace wide infections. Many people return to school or work too early, further expediting the spread of the condition.

Pinkeye is very contagious. Although no more prolific than many other viruses, because touching the eye during normal everyday activity and sharing common places with family, schoolmates and coworkers is so common, the spread is often hard to contain. Hand washing and early recognition of signs and symptoms are the best ways to prevent the spread of this condition.