Proper treatment of jaundice often depends on the underlying condition that caused the symptom to appear in the first place. Once that condition is properly treated, the skin will return to its normal color. For pre-term infants, there often is no required treatment; the liver is simply allowed to mature. The jaundice disappears once the organ is capable of handling a normal amount of bilirubin.
For more severe cases of infant jaundice, additional treatment may be necessary. Light therapy, which involves placing the infant under a special blue-green spectrum light, can help the baby's body to rid itself of excess bilirubin. Infants whose jaundice is due to the difference in blood type between baby and mother may need an immunoglobulin transfusion. As a last resort, a blood transfusion may be used if the condition doesn't respond to other treatments [source: Mayo Clinic].
In adults, jaundice itself can't be treated; the underlying cause must be addressed in order to rid the skin of its yellow coloring. Because jaundice in adults can be caused by a variety of conditions, treatments vary widely. To treat cirrhosis of the liver, for example, avoiding alcohol and taking certain medications can help improve the disease, although there is no cure. For different hepatitis strains, a doctor may prescribe medications and monitor the liver's condition.
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Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- HealthSquare. "Jaundice, Adult." (Accessed 8/4/09)http://www.healthsquare.com/mc/fgmc9012.htm
- Kaneshiro, Neil. "Jaundice." MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. 5/8/08. (Accessed 8/4/09) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003243.htm
- Kaneshiro, Neil. "Newborn Jaundice." MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. 12/1/08. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001559.htm
- Mayo Clinic. "Hepatitis A." 9/7/07. (Accessed 8/4/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-a/DS00397
- Mayo Clinic. "Hepatitis B." 10/3/08. (Accessed 8/4/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-b/DS00398
- Mayo Clinic. "Hepatitis C." 4/8/09. (Accessed 8/4/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-c/DS00097
- Mayo Clinic. "Infant Jaundice." 4/14/09. (Accessed 8/4/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/infant-jaundice/DS00107
- Mayo Clinic. "Malaria." 7/31/08. (Accessed 8/5/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/malaria/DS00475
- Roche, Sean and Rebecca Kobos. "Jaundice in the Adult Patient." American Family Physician 69:2. 1/15/04. (Accessed 8/4/09)http://www.aafp.org/afp/20040115/299.html
- Schwartz, Robert. "Carotenemia." 5/13/08. (Accessed 8/5/09)http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1104368-overview
- WebMD. "Cirrhosis of the Liver." 8/13/08. (Accessed 8/5/09)http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/cirrhosis-liver
- WebMD. "Understanding Jaundice." 7/10/08. (Accessed 8/4/09)http://children.webmd.com/digestive-diseases-jaundice