If you have chronic eczema (atopic dermatitis), you may be curious to try the home remedy called a “bleach bath.” Eczema symptoms can be triggered by allergies, genetics, climate, stress, and other factors.
A bath is a common treatment for an eczema flare-up because it can restore moisture to dry skin. There are several types of baths that can help relieve the symptoms of an eczema flare-up. Oatmeal baths, saltwater baths, and vinegar baths are among the home remedy baths that the National Eczema Association recommends.
Bathing in a solution of water and a small concentration of bleach might be especially effective because it rids your body’s surface of bacteria and reduces inflammation.
Should you try a bleach bath to treat your eczema? Keep reading to find out more.
How it works
A bleach bath is unique because it kills bacteria, reduces inflammation, and moisturizes your skin all in the same treatment. A study showed that children with eczema who took regular bleach baths were less likely to develop a secondary bacterial infection, such as a staph infection, as a side effect of eczema. The baths also decreased the severity of symptoms for children in the same study.
How to do it
To use a bleach bath as a treatment for your eczema, note that the bath will contain mostly water and a very low amount of bleach. A standard bathtub, which contains 40 gallons of water, will only need a 1/2 cup of bleach to be an effective bleach bath. Make sure to adjust the amount for how much water is in your bathtub. Use household bleach, not a concentrated formula.
The bleach should be added when the water is lukewarm (not hot to the touch), and you should speak to your healthcare provider or your child’s pediatrician before you try this remedy for the first time. Make absolutely certain not to submerge your head in water during the bleach bath, and keep the water away from your eyes during the bath. Remember, don’t add any other chemical substance like shampoo or soap to this bath.
A bleach bath should only last 10 minutes. After soaking for 10 minutes, rinse your skin off completely with warm water. Hot water can dry out your skin and aggravate eczema, so avoid rinsing in a scalding shower after a bleach bath.
Following this treatment, pat your skin dry gently with a towel. Some people like to use a hypoallergenic lotion to soothe skin and lock in moisture after a bleach bath. You can take a bleach bath safely up to three times per week to treat your eczema.
A bleach bath is not an appropriate treatment for everyone with eczema. Children under the age of 2 years old should only be given a bleach bath under the advice of a pediatrician. There are people who find their skin is dried out or irritated by bleach. You can perform a patch test on your skin with diluted bleach to see if your skin will be irritated by soaking in bleach.
You may also want to avoid bleach baths if you have asthma. Exposure to the smell of bleach can trigger an asthma symptom flare-up. Make sure that your bleach bath happens in a bathroom where there is a window or proper ventilation, as prolonged exposure to the scent of bleach can be corrosive to your respiratory system.
If you’re using medications or cosmetics that make your skin thin and susceptible to tearing, such as anti-aging retinol treatments, topical corticosteroids, or prescription blood thinners, you should proceed with caution before taking a bleach bath. Never take one of these baths if you have an exposed, open, or bleeding cut on the area of your body that you are soaking. If you can limit your bleach bath to the area of your body that is affected by the eczema, that is ideal.
There is some new research that suggests bleach baths are not significantly more effective than baths without any bleach. People that are trying bleach baths as an eczema remedy should be aware that a traditional bath may work just as well, without the potential to accidentally get bleach in your eyes and mouth.
The bottom line
There is evidence to support bleach baths for the treatment of chronic eczema, but there’s also evidence to the contrary. Still, this is an easy remedy to try at home, and there is little risk involved.
Measuring the bleach out carefully, rinsing your skin off afterward, and using a cream to lock in moisture after patting your skin dry are all critical steps to the success of this home remedy. Always keep your doctor in the loop about alternative and home remedies you are trying out for your eczema.