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Bleach Bath for Eczema

bleach bathWhenever doctors suggest trying a bleach bath for eczema, people (usually moms) tend to get shocked. At least that has been my observation online, frequenting beauty and skin care forums as well as just searching on Google.

The main reason for reacting so unfavorably to this suggestion is because bleach, as we know, is a household chemical seemingly more suitable for cleaning dirty surfaces than using on sensitive skin. The warning label on Clorox even says "Hazards to human and domestic animals." So the advice that doctors give out regarding bleach bath seems preposterous.

But a good attitude for finding the best eczema treatment involves doing your research and checking the facts before jumping to conclusions. There is a good reason doctors like to suggest this particular method, because of these facts:

Fact 1: People with eczema are much more likely to get staph infection.

Atopic dermatitis invites a lot of scratching, which breaks the skin open, allowing microorganisms such as bacteria to enter the skin. One of the most common bacterial infection is Staphylococcus aureus, also known as staph bacteria. About 90% of people with atopic dermatitis have staph bacteria on their skin, as opposed to fewer than 5% of people without the skin condition. [1]

A research also shows that people with this skin condition also lack two natural antibiotic proteins that the immune system needs to fight off the infection.

Fact 2: Bleach kills staph bacteria.

Bleach has been used as a disinfectant and for sterilizing because of its strong bactericidal properties. Researchers took this idea further and conducted several studies that proved that bleach could indeed help eczema sufferers to control bacterial growth.

The basic findings of the studies showed that adding a half a cup of bleach to bath water had an antiseptic effect that reduced bacteria living on the skin. [2]


There has been no study yet to determine if bleach bath for eczema is safe long-term. And it's also important to remember that this is NOT a cure or a be-all and end-all solution.

It is simply a method to reduce the colonization of bacteria on eczema skin, so it would be more responsive to other treatments that involve moisturization and topical medications. Less bacteria -> other treatment works -> reduces scratching -> prevents more bacterial infection.

I personally have had much success with bleach bath even though I wasn't keen on the idea. I used about half a cup of Clorox in a bath tub full of lukewarm water twice a week, which was the amount and frequency determined by my dermatologist. She thought my skin smelled "sweet" like a colonization of bacteria was taking place, evident by large, clustered patches of eczema that didn't seem to respond well to topical steroids.

Taking those baths cleared up the bacteria on my skin. I don't do the bleach bath anymore, because these days, most of rash comes from my skin being too dry, which I can quickly take care of with moisturizing properly.

It's a sensible short-term solution backed up by research and is safe under a strict guidance of a doctor. So instead of freaking out at the mere suggestion of it ("Oh no, how can he say I should bathe my precious child in BLEACH?!"), it would be best to check out all the facts first and see how other people respond to this treatment.


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