The incubation period for pink eye can range from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
More Info: Conjunctivitis, more commonly referred to as pink eye, can be caused by a variety of factors. The incubation period, that is the span of time that elapses between a person coming in contact with the infection and the symptoms ultimately appearing, depend upon what has caused the infection.
Incubation Periods by Infection Type
Though difficult to retrieve a definitive timeline on the incubation period of any type of conjunctivitis, the following timeframe has been published by the Indiana State Department of Health. (Indiana State Department of Health 2011 )
Bacterial: 12 hours-3 days.
Viral: 24-72 hours.
Contagious Period by Infection Type
Bacterial: Contagious as long as the mucous is still discharging from the eye. Depending on the infection it can last only a few days or in more severe cases can last weeks. The majority of cases improve in 2-5 days without treatment. If an antibiotic is prescribed, it is generally safe to return to normal activities within 24 hours. (Center for Disease Control 2011)
Viral: Contagious as long as the mucous is still discharging from the eye. The symptoms are usually the most severe at 3-5 days and begin to ease in 7-14 days. (Center for Disease Control 2011)
Allergens: Not contagious
Irritants: Not contagious
“CDC – Conjunctivitis: Causes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/conjunctivitis/about/causes.html.
“Conjunctivitis: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001010.htm.
“ISDH: Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye).” Indiana State Department of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2011. http://www.in.gov/isdh/23294.htm.