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Diluted Bleach Baths Improve Childhood Eczema

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Diluted Bleach Baths

Researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have found that household bleach or more precisely diluted bleach baths can reduce the misery of childhood eczema. According to the study, seventeen percent of school age children experience eczema, causing itching, rash, poor sleep, and potentially setting kids up for skin infection including MRSA from broken skin.

The researchers say diluted bleach baths can reduce the number of eczema flare-ups, calm itching, and improved quality of life in children with eczema. The inexpensive baths translate to less risk of antibiotic resistance. Walter J. Hamlin Professor and chair of dermatology, and professor of pediatrics, at the Feinberg School, Amy S. Paller, M.D., found that eczema in children responded to dilute bleach baths five times better than children given placebo over a three-month period.

Dr. Paller says, "We've long struggled with staphylococcal infections in patients with eczema. This study shows that simple household bleach, which we think decreases the staphylococcus on the skin, can help these children." The children were treated with ½ cup of bleach in a standard size tub full of water, comparing the effectiveness of bleach baths to children who received antibiotics for skin infection associated with eczema.

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Bathing with diluted bleach was so helpful for kid’s eczema that the researchers ended the study early. They wanted the children-receiving placebo for eczema treatment to experience the same rapid improvement in eczema seen among the children w treated with diluted bleach baths. The researchers say the children’s eczema improved quickly.

In the study, an eleven-year-old girl who had missed half of the school year because of eczema began crying. She said, 'I'm crying because I know I'm going to get better.' "

Peter Lio, M.D., director of the Eczema Care & Education Center and an assistant professor of dermatology and of pediatrics at the Feinberg School. "Eczema beats people down."