Conjunctivitis - Treatment

The treatment of conjunctivitis depends on the cause of the condition. In all cases, symptoms are usually relieved by the use of a warm compress placed directly on the eye. A compress is a moist pad. The treatment is repeated several times a day.

There are relatively few direct treatments for viral infections. If a herpes infection is suspected, medical advice should be sought. A herpes infection is one caused by a herpes virus (see herpes infections entry). The herpes virus causes a variety of infections, including cold sores and infections of the genital area. Sometimes antibiotics are used to prevent secondary infections. A warm compress is advised to relieve discomfort. The viral infection usually clears up after a few days.

Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotics. Ointments (lotions) or eye drops containing the antibiotic can be placed directly into the eye. The treatment is usually used once a day for one or two weeks. Improvement is usually seen in the first three days. If there is no change, a different drug may be needed, or another cause for the infection should be considered.

Cases of conjunctivitis related to sexually transmitted diseases require special types of care. In some cases, injections of antibiotics may be necessary. Sexual partners should also be notified and treated.

Cases of conjunctivitis caused by environmental factors are treated by removing the agent responsible for the problem. For example, a person who is allergic to dust or pollen should try not to be exposed to these substances. Symptoms can be treated with a cool compress applied directly to the eye. Drugs such as diphenhydramine hydrochloride (pronounced DIE-fen-HI-druh-meen HI-dro-KLOR-ide, trade name Benadryl) can also provide relief when administered as eye drops.

Alternative Treatment

Conjunctivitis caused by a sexually transmitted disease should be treated by a medical doctor. With other forms of conjunctivitis, some types of alternative treatments may be helpful. Some practitioners suggest strengthening of the immune system with herbs such as St. John's wort. Some symptoms of conjunctivitis may be relieved by the use of herbs, such as windflower, eyebright, and Belladonna. These herbs can be prepared in the form of eye drops or eye washes. Preparations should be kept sterile. If no improvement is seen, medical advice should be sought.

A simple home remedy for the relief of the symptoms of conjunctivitis is a boric acid eyewash. A warm compress applied to the eyes for five to ten minutes three times a day can also be helpful. Allergic conjunctivitis should be treated with a cool compress.

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