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Bleach: Not Just For Clothing?

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While searching different medical articles for new treatments of skin disorders, I found a very bizarre article. It claimed that bleach (which I thought was only used for clothing) could help children suffering from chronic eczema but how?

Eczema’s most common form is atopic dermatitis (atopic eczema), a skin condition associated with irritation or inflammation. Atopic eczema affects 9 to 30 percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Eczema is highly common in young children and infants, and the length of time they experience the disorder can range from their second birthday to the rest of their life. Areas affected by eczema are often irritated, inflamed, and may appear dry or scaly.

For fair skinned individuals, eczema may appear reddish and then turn brown, while darker individuals may experience either lightened or darkened skin pigmentation. In infants, the rashes can cause oozing and crusting. While eczema is most common on the face, hands, feet, and knees, it can occur on any part of the body.

A serious concern with eczema is the possibility of infection. Irritation caused by eczema can provoke scratching, leaving the skin exposed to infection. Complications from infection, such as staphylococcus aureus, can be lethal or debilitating. While infections are generally treated with antibiotics, they can provoke worse symptoms in eczema patients.

So, where does bleach factor in?

In studies by Amy Paller and several other associates, patients with eczema and staph infections were treated with diluted bleach baths and a series antibiotics over a two week period. These patients were compared with patients having eczema and staph who received antibiotics and a placebo, non-bleach bath. The recipients of the antibiotic and bleach bath treatments showed significant improvement to the control group, with reduced eczema symptoms.

Other research has shown that diluted bleach is useful for adults as well as children who suffer from chronic eczema. An article, written by L. Gibson, M.D. for the Mayo Clinic, offers a recipe for a properly diluted bleach bath: ½ cup bleach to 40-gallons of hot water in a bath tub. It is recommended to soak the infected area for five to ten minutes and to properly dry and moisturize the affected area. Dr. Gibson recommends bathing no more than twice a week and cautions against high bleach concentrations, as both may contribute to drying skin.

For those affected with eczema, this may prove to be a useful treatment in lessening the symptoms. For more information, check out the links below or contact your dermatologist.



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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.