Bacteria on the skin can trigger eczema symptoms. Derms recommend a bleach bath as soothing home remedy.
If you have eczema, using the right products (those designed for sensitive, itchy skin) is a key part of your treatment regimen. Some ingredients found in commercial skin care products can irritate the body, they warn, and they may cause eczema flare-ups.
So why do doctors recommend a bleach bath as an effective eczema treatment?
First of all, if you have eczema, you should never apply undiluted bleach straight to your skin, warns the American Academy of Dermatology. This is way too harsh for anyone’s skin (with eczema or otherwise), and your doc definitely doesn’t want you to sit in a bathtub full of bleach.
However, a bath with a touch of bleach is safe and may be helpful for some eczema patients. Here’s why: Certain skin infections, such molluscum virus, herpes virus, ringworm, and athlete’s foot, can trigger or worsen eczema symptoms, according to the National Eczema Association. A bleach bath can cut down on the number of bacteria on the skin and prevent eczema from becoming infected, which will make your skin even more irritated.
To safely take a bleach bath for eczema, use a ¼ cup of bleach for half a tub of water (or a ½ cup for a full tub). Choose a regular-strength bleach, which should be 6 percent. Skip the concentrated stuff. This will create a bleach-and-water solution that is about the same strength as a swimming pool, says dermatologist Suzanne Friedler, MD, of the Mount Sinai Hospital and St. John’s Episcopal Hospital.
There’s no need to bring a book and light candles for this bath: Your doctor recommends just five to 10 minutes in a bleach bath, and only take one twice a week.
For more home treatment tips for eczema, here’s how to pick the right moisturizer to prevent eczema flare-ups.
Dr. Friedler is a dermatologist and clinical instructor at The Mount Sinai Hospital and St. John's Episcopal Hospital.
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Bleach baths are not for everyone,
but they can be a helpful addition for
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patients whose skin gets
secondarily infected by scratching.
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Adding a bleach bath can
help manage infection and
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symptoms by killing bacteria
that can live on the skin.
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To prepare a bleach bath, take a half a
tub of water and a quarter cup of bleach.
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This will create a very dilute solution,
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which is similar to what
you get in a swimming pool.
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You only need to sit in it for
about five minutes or less and
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it can be done up to twice a week.
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Atopic dermatitis: Bleach bath therapy. Schaumburg, IL: American Academy of Dermatology. (Accessed on August 21, 2017 at https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/eczema/atopic-dermatitis#bleach-bath.)
Eczema and bathing. San Rafael, CA: National Eczema Association. (Accessed on August 21, 2017 at https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/bathing/.)
Eczema causes and triggers. San Rafael, CA: National Eczema Association. (Accessed on August 21, 2017 at https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/causes-and-triggers-of-eczema/.)