Many parents are quite apprehensive about bleach bath treatment for eczema as small children have a delicate skin. This article will help you to understand the beneficial effects of bleach bath.
Medically, eczema is known as atopic dermatitis. It is not yet known why infants and small children mostly get affected by it. In many cases, it has been found to be hereditary. This inflamed skin condition is extremely bothersome mainly because of dryness of the skin and constant itchiness. Small children often cannot control the urge to scratch the skin. Repeated scratching makes the skin prone to bacterial infection and the symptoms worsen.
Doctors treat the skin inflammation with topical corticosteroid creams. They also recommend application of emollients on dry, thick, scaly eczema skin rashes. If there are signs of secondary skin infection, antibiotics are prescribed. Eczema is a chronic form of skin disorder that often refuses to go for a long time even after using these medicines. For this reason, pediatricians look for alternative treatment options like bleach bath.
Effectiveness of a Bleach Bath on Eczema
When too much of scratching causes damage to the skin surface, bacteria present in fingernails enter into the broken skin and start growing in numbers and make the matter worse. For years, physicians and scientists all across the globe who were doing research on the effects of bleach bath on eczema, claim that it brings down the severity of common eczema symptoms like reddening of the skin, scaling, itching, etc., to a great extent. According to them, the bleach does not reduce the skin inflammation triggered by eczema but it effectively treats the bacterial skin infection that develops on the open wounds of the skin. As the bacteria are destroyed with the help of bleach water, the signs and symptoms of eczema subside too.
Their findings were further confirmed by a recent research study conducted on 31 children who were in the age group of 6 months to 17 years and were suffering from a severe form of chronic eczema along with bacterial skin infection. Half of these children underwent bleach bath treatment for three months and others were on placebo.
After 3 months, significant improvement was observed in the skin condition of those who took bleach bath as compared to those who had normal bath. In fact, the severity of eczema reduced by five times. Another interesting finding was that the eczema improved only in those areas which were submerged into the bleach water. There was no improvement in eczema flare ups in the areas like neck and scalp which were not exposed to bleach.
Now, let me explain the bleach bath benefit for eczema that was found during this research study. The bacteria which is mainly responsible for causing infection on eczema affected skin is Staphylococcus aureus. This bacteria is usually treated with antibiotics, but it can be treated with bleach bath as well. This is because natural antibacterial properties of bleach destroy the bacteria on the skin surface very rapidly.
The disadvantage of using antibiotics on staphylococcus aureus is that if it is used for a long time, then the bacteria develops resistance towards the medicine. This leads to emergence of MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). An infection caused by MRSA is very difficult to treat as it does not respond to antibiotics. On the other hand, even if bleach bath treatment continues for a long time, it does not lead to growth of MRSA. For this reason, physicians who were reluctant about overuse of antibiotics on small children dealing with uncontrolled eczema, now recommend the bleach bath for eczema without any hesitation.
How to Use Bleach Bath for Eczema Relief
You just need some water and liquid bleach for a bleach bath. It is a simple treatment that shows amazing results. The main bleaching component of regular household bleach is sodium hypochlorite. While selecting the bleach for treating eczema, you must use the one which has less than six percent of sodium hypochlorite.
A very diluted form of bleach is used for treatment. First of all, you have to fill up your child’s bathtub with around 40 gallons of lukewarm water. Do not use hot water as heat can badly irritate the skin. Next, add one-fourth cup of liquid bleach into this water and stir it well so that the liquids mix with each other. Now, the bath water is ready for use.
You have to first rub a little diluted bleach on your child’s elbow or knees and wait for a few minutes. If your child does not show any signs of skin reaction, soak him or her in this bleach water for ten minutes. While giving bleach bath to babies and small children, care should be taken that the bleach solution does not get into their eyes or they do not drink it up. After 10 minutes of bath, rinse off the bleach residues from their body using fresh lukewarm water. Then gently pat with a soft cotton towel to dry up the skin. Do not rub the towel on their skin surface as it can cause irritation.
Finally, apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly or any other medicated lotion prescribed by the doctor to moisturize the skin. This treatment should be carried out alongside conventional treatment that involves use of medicines and moisturizers. To yield maximum benefits from the bleach bath and get faster relief from eczema, it should be repeated twice every week. If your dermatologist advises you to give bleach bath to your kid more frequently, then you can go ahead with it.
Let me tell you that the bleaching solution prepared for bleach bath is stronger than the swimming pool water. Therefore, it is strictly advisable that you try out this treatment at home only if your pediatrician advises you to do so. Even though bleach bath is a safe and effective form of eczema treatment, there are some children who cannot tolerate bleach exposure at all. So, if the child complains about some discomfort after the treatment, then stop the treatment immediately and talk to your dermatologist for the next course of action.