Bleach Baths

Often used alongside other forms of topical or day-to-day treatments, bleach baths are a common form of treatment for atopic dermatitis or eczema. Bleach baths are often an addition to other treatment routines used for the care and management of eczema symptoms.

What are bleach baths?

Bleach baths help to relieve and reduce the symptoms of eczema by combining a solution of water with a small concentration of bleach, to reduce inflammation and rid the body of surface bacteria that may prevent or prolong healing as well as reduce or remove certain painful or compulsive symptoms related to the condition.

Eczema can be triggered by many different situations or exposures, including but not limited to stress, genetics, allergens in the environment and even the climate in which the individuals live. Due to the way eczema dries out the skin, bath-type treatments are often recommended as a way to soothe the dryness of the skin and encourage moisturization and healing.

Bleach baths are considered a home remedy that many individuals use around the world efficiently, but this treatment could also be recommended by a doctor or medical professional as a way to reduce symptoms. It is advised that a doctor's advice is sought before choosing to try this treatment.

How Bleach Baths work

Children and adults with eczema often experience extremely dry, itchy, and sometimes cracked skin that can quickly become unpleasant and painful. It is when eczema reaches this stage - with open wounds, sores or painful skin - that the individual may also be susceptible to secondary infections and conditions as a result of bacteria entering the raw or open skin.

Bleach baths act as a way to disinfect the skin and prevent other infections, such as staph infections, from occurring. Bleach kills bacteria quickly and effectively, leaving wounds and sore skin clean. Bleach baths have also been known to reduce overall symptoms of eczema, partly by removing irritants or causes of the condition in the first place.

118 milliliters or half a cup of bleach per 40 gallons of warm bathwater is the recommended use for bleach baths. It is recommended the individual bathes from the neck down only, in order to ensure no bleach is consumed. Moisturising immediately after bathing is also essential, as this ensures skin isn’t further dried out by the bleach itself.

Reasons to use Bleach Baths

There are many different reasons an individual may choose to use a bleach bath treatment for their atopic dermatitis, or eczema. Often, in cases where chronic eczema is present, the focus is on reducing immediate symptoms and conditions, which can be provided by creams. However, bathing offers longer-term care and management of the condition by helping to remove bacteria from the body.

Killing the bacteria present on the skin can also reduce inflammation, as well as scaling and itching. A bleach bath, in combination with other baths, creams, and treatments, can make a substantial change to the state of a person’s skin in little to no time, and continued use can reduce or prevent specific eczema symptoms quickly and easily.

Bleach Bath directions

When choosing to attempt a bleach bath for the treatment of eczema, there are several factors to consider. The first of these is to ensure that other measures are in place following the bath, including clean and dry towels as well as moisturizers and creams to ensure skin stays hydrated.

It’s also essential that the measures and values suggested are matched as best as possible, as too much bleach may cause additional skin problems such as pain, dryness and a strong smell, while too little will have less effect.

These instructions provide the optimum way to execute a Bleach Bath:

  • Run a large bathtub with lukewarm to warm water, filling the tub to around 40 gallons or 151 liters, or to the overflow level. Ensure temperature of the water is suitable for yourself or your child.
  • Add a single half cup, or 118 milliliters, of household bleach to the bathwater. Never use concentrated bleach for this process.
  • Soak the most affected or uncomfortable areas in the bleach-water solution for around 10 minutes at a time, ensuring none of the water enters the eyes, mouth or nose.
  • Drain the tub and if irritation from the bleach is apparent rinse the skin quickly in warm water. This can also be done early if you or your child is experiencing a strong intolerance to the treatment.
  • Use a clean, dry towel to pat the skin dry quickly and gently, ensuring areas of eczema, in particular, are as dry as possible.
  • Apply a generous layer or moisturizer or prescribed medication over the affected areas to prevent the skin from drying out

Bleach baths can be repeated up to three times per week for the long-term effective control and management of eczema conditions. However, should side effects or increase in skin problems and pain become apparent, it’s important to consult a doctor on whether this treatment should continue.

Suitability of Bleach Baths

Bleach baths can be an effective, easy to do treatment for eczema, and is used by many worldwide as such. However, it’s important to note what is sufficient for one person may not work for the next. There are many different causes of eczema and often, treating the condition may not affect the cause of this skin condition.

For example, in cases where eczema flare-ups are caused by high levels of stress, or as a response to allergens in the environment, it’s unlikely that this treatment will help to reduce and even stop symptoms in the long term without other forms of treatment alongside it.

If you are considering using bleach baths as a treatment for you or your child, then it is important to consult with a doctor on whether this form of treatment is suitable for the particular medical situation. In some cases, what presents as atopic dermatitis may, in fact, be another skin condition entirely, which could be exacerbated by the use of bleach baths.

Bleach Baths and other treatments

Bleach baths are often used in combination with other forms of treatment to help prevent, reduce and mask the symptoms of this condition. Some of the more problematic symptoms that this condition can cause includes:

  • Intense itching
  • Dry, sometimes scaly rashes
  • Painful cracks in the skin

The above symptoms can all be relieved through a variety or combination of different treatments, alongside the use of a bleach bath to disinfect and clean the skin effectively. Treatments used alongside bleach baths may include:

  • Topical creams with or without steroids to promote the repair of the skin
  • Moisturizing creams to improve the hydration and flexibility of the skin
  • Anti-inflammatory medications or topical creams
  • Anti-itch creams and ointments
  • Moisturizing or disinfecting baths such as oatmeal or salt water

Often, a doctor will combine more than one treatment with bleach baths to form an effective treatment plan that can either be used consistently or simply during flare-ups at particularly problematic times of the year.

Preventative measures can also be taken against this condition, though these treatments will usually not require bleach baths as part of their treatment.

Risks of Bleach Baths

As with any potent chemical, it is vital to handle bleach with care and ensure that it is stored safely away out of the reach of pets and children. Equally, though only a small amount of bleach is used within a bleach bath, it is also important that children or pets cannot access the water unsupervised, in cases where it can enter their eyes, mouth or nose.

When choosing a household bleach for use with bleach baths, ensure that the bleach you are using is not concentrated, and does not contain any allergens or items that may cause a reaction within yourself or your child. Failing to do so may result in bleach baths causing your skin to become drier and more painful.

For those with sensitive skin, bleach baths may cause more harm than help. This is especially the case in those who find regular bathing painful due to their skin condition, and it is recommended to speak to a doctor before considering a bleach bath as a treatment solution for the symptoms of eczema. A dermatologist will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment for your skin.