Bleach Baths for Eczema – Does it Work?

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Last year, when an eczema bleach bath study was published in the Pediatrics journal, I was crossing my fingers for our one-year old toddler (he has very severe eczema). The treatment is suppose to reduce symptoms of chronic eczema (atopic dermatitis). According to the buzz in the media, a bleach bath is practically a miracle treatment for eczema. In reality, the treatment doesn’t cure eczema, but it is suppose to help significantly. This year, our dermatologist finally gave us approval to try the bleach bath treatments for eczema on our little toddler.

Bleach Baths Treatment for Eczema

Bleach Bath Treatment for Eczema
For the eczema bleach bath treatment, a small amount of bleach is added to warm water (a half cup of bleach for a 40-gallon bathtub). According to research, an eczema bleach bath kills bacteria that grow on the skin. The bath is suppose to reduce itching, redness, scaling, and other symptoms of eczema. For the treatment, dads and moms are suppose to soak the affected areas of skin for at least five to ten minutes. According to the medical community, moms and dads shouldn’t give a bleach bath to their kids more than twice a week. Two times a week wasn’t work out for our toddler, so we give him a bleach bath every other day.

The Result
We’ve been giving our toddler bleach baths for about three months now. The verdict: it helps, but it is not a miracle treatment for eczema. Before we started the treatments, our one-year old had swollen hands and they felt like alligator skin. OK, I’ve never actually touched an alligator or crocodile before, but our toddler’s hands were very rough and he didn’t like people touching his hands. His hands use to itch so much that he would rub the back of hands on the carpet until they got bloody and eventually became infected.

After three months of bleach baths, his hands are still not baby soft. But they are not rough like an alligator either. They feel more like the texture of a unicorn’s horn (smooth, but kinda gritty). This is an improvement from before, but sometimes he still scratches like crazy. That’s why I concluded the bleach baths treatment is helpful, but is not a miracle treatment for eczema (in our case). My guess is that the treatment might work better with older kids because they have better control when it comes to scratching.

Note: eczema bleach baths are more effective when combined with other eczema treatments, such as medication and daily moisturizers.

[Warning: a bleach bath can cause skin dryness if the bleach concentration is too high or if the bath is done too often. Please consult your doctor before giving a bleach bath to your children or yourself.]

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19 thoughts on “Bleach Baths for Eczema – Does it Work?

  1. My son has periodic bouts with small eczema, but my older sister was born covered head to toe with it. She’s “outgrown” most of it, but it was severe when she was a baby. In fact, she didn’t come home from the hospital until she was about six months old. I’m hoping your son’s conditions start to alleviate, if not all together disappear, as he gets older.

    I’ll have to tell my sister about bleach baths if she ever has a severe breakout again; she can check with her doctor.

    1. Wow, six months is a long time to be at the hospital. It’ve been really bad. Glad she grew out most of it. I’m hoping he outgrows his eczema too. And his food allergies.

  2. Can I suggest something that really helped my youngest son? Try the Arbonne baby oils and lotions. No, I’m not an Arbonne employee or consultant, but their products really help babies and kids (and grown-ups) with very sensitive skin and eczema.

    Hadn’t heard of the bleach baths before, thanks for sharing.

  3. I have never heard of the bleach baths for eczema. I’m glad they are working for Disney! My niece has eczema so I will recommend them for her. She scratches until her knees and ankles bleed. :-(

  4. I’ve never heard of this! I would imagine you would have to keep the water out of the eyes, or maybe there is not enough bleach in the water to really irritate them? And whoever thought of this??

    1. You do have to keep the water away from the eyes. If you have to wash the face, you’re suppose to use a washcloth.

      Using bleach does sound like a strange idea, but I’m glad they did the study.

  5. Yey … a real post and not a contest … I’ve been wondering what has been up with the kids … well, I hope that this one works on your son … I’ve been praying for you guys.

    Do post more about them again. =)

  6. WOW I never heard of that. My daughter has it we just slather on Aquafor or Eucerin it seems to help. Hmmm might have to try the bath with Eucerin.

  7. I miss to put comment here hehehehe anyway nice to see back virtually the toddlers are fine. that bleach i never tried . my first daughter has eczeem problem too for milk but if winter time it will gone and summer time they come back now it lessen i ask many friends actually this summer holiday cha got a lot of rashess but when i try the cream from germany called Kaufman it works and the eczeem less visible in the skin and less itchy according to my daughter as i ask her. so Kaufman is my best cream…sudocream and hyrdocortizon cream does not really work. well, for bath i think best is Eucerin or seba med or balium voor itchy sensitive skin then after bath apply something fatty cream what advisable to you and your wife. I just arrived from holiday in ravensburg and i bought 6 Kaufman cream.if you are interested to kaufman cream let me know i can send you 1 cream for free.i use also the kaufman cream for my pregnancy scratch and it smooth back my skin, oh i love papaya soap for bleaching bath but this one avialable only for organic store.

    Anyway ,Don’t worry it’s gonna be fine and eczeem will gone when the toddler is enough older. bring them also to skin specialist for more info.real coconut cream is best for skin too.

  8. Oh I feel bad for your son, I have come down with this on my feet three years ago.
    Have you switched to FREE and Clear laundry soaps and free and clear for sensitive skin in the bath too and shampoos? you cant use anything with scent in it .. not on clothes for washing or on your body for the baby. I would be leary of a bleach bath, bleach causes cancer. Ask anyone who lives in Maryland.. bleach plant there and lots of cancer patients over the past few years. I would NOT bathe my baby in bleach!!
    I hope my recommendation helps. I moved to Purex 3 in 1 laundry sheets free and clear ones.. the white box. Had helped me tons! I wash everything in it.. sheets, pillow cases, clothing.. for the bath I use body wash and I use a scrubbie.. one on my feet that I dont use on the rest of my body.. you dont want this to spread. So whatever you use on his areas of infection dont use it on anyone else, even towels, and dont use it on his other parts of his body! It will spread if you do!

  9. Bleach baths twice a week have been central to managing our 2 year old daughter’s eczema. After face and hair washing, we add a capful of bleach to the tub and let her soak about 5 minutes. My understanding is that the bleach kills staph bacteria on the skin that otherwise penetrates her damaged skin layer causing infection, redness and bumps.

    Immediately after patting her dry we use CeraVe cream all over her body. This cream contains ceramides, which are water-bonding lipids reportedly found in high concentrations in healthy skin but lacking in eczematic skin. We also use this cream twice daily on her elbows, knees, back and neck. We like CereVe but my guess is any good moisturizing cream will suffice. Being diligent about this bleach/CeraVe combination really helps in our case.

    Regarding the dangers of bleach, pool chlorine is more concentrated than a cap of household chlorine bleach in the tub, so I don’t worry that these soaks are going to hurt my daughter. Of course, just don’t use too much bleach! If you are concerned, maybe take your child to a swimming pool a couple times a week and see if you notice an improvement. The active component in pool chlorine and chlorine bleach is the same so the results should be identical as well.

  10. I have a type of eczema on my hands & arms that stings with any lotion I put on it, it itches horribly, and even if I avoid washing my hands too much/doing dishes or certain foods (sugar) I still get it (thanks to hormones). So, I thought I’d try Made From The Earth Aloe Jojoba Creme Therapy and let me tell you-IT WORKS! I’ve been using it for over a month now and it’s like 90% gone-I just had a flare up (due to high stress, no doubt)…so it doesn’t erase it completely but WOW-I’m not up all night scratching and having to suffer with scaley, scabby hands any more! :)

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