Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Can taking Baths in Bleach Reduce Eczema?

A mother of my patient with eczema asked me what I knew about giving people with eczema baths in bleach. She had been told this was a recommended treatment from friends. In short: not a good idea.

Bleach is a mild acid. This is essentially pool water. Acidic water is more likely to remove the oils in the outer layer of skin. Once the patient leaves the pool, the outer layer of skin dries out more than it should. The outer layer of skin is dead skin cells, that peel off and crack. The inner layers of skin are alive and become irritated when they get too dry. Bacteria can enter the inner layers of skin and cause infections more easily when the outer layer of skin is too dry. Not good.

This is reason why the treatment for eczema or even dry skin is to place more oily lotions on the skin, to improve the barrier function and allow less drying.

I can not think of any good reason to take baths in bleach. Please do not take baths in bleach.

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