Can a bleach bath treat chronic eczema?

Answers from Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.

A bath with a small amount of bleach added to the water may help lessen symptoms of chronic eczema (atopic dermatitis).

Eczema is an itchy skin condition, often worsened by a bacterial infection. An eczema bleach bath can kill bacteria on the skin, reducing itching, redness and scaling. This is most effective when combined with other eczema treatments, such as medication and moisturizer.

If properly diluted and used as directed, a bleach bath is safe for children and adults. For best results:

  • Add 1/2 cup (about 118 milliliters) of bleach to a 40-gallon (about 151-liter) bathtub filled with warm water. Measures are for a U.S. standard-sized tub filled to the overflow drainage holes. Use household bleach, not concentrated bleach.
  • Soak from the neck down or just the affected areas of skin for about 10 minutes.
  • Rinse if your skin doesn't tolerate the bleach bath well. Gently pat dry with a towel.
  • Immediately apply moisturizer generously.
  • Take a bleach bath no more than three times a week.

You may experience dry skin if you use too much bleach or take bleach baths too often. If your skin is cracked or very dry, any bath — including a bleach bath — may be painful. Talk to your doctor before trying an eczema bleach bath.

July 21, 2017