Recently I read a study about the treatment of eczema by the use of bleach. It was dumbfounding that bleach which is commonly used in laundry can treat eczema, a chronic skin disease. Studies say that as many as one in five school-aged children have eczema, medically known as atopic dermatitis that affects youngsters’ appearance, sleep and their ability to concentrate in school and in public place. I truly agree with the report as I have seen my best friend in the similar situation. She has been suffering with eczema for decades. She changed multiple dermatologists and tried numerous treatment options for eczema without any success. I hope bleach treatment may provide desirable results to her and other patients as claimed by the studies.
Robert Brodell, a professor of internal medicine and dermatology at Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine, says dermatologists have been working on the treatment of eczema for about 20 years, but this is the first scientific study on the topic.
What is eczema?
Eczema is an itchy inflammation of the skin which is often used interchangeably with Atopic Dermatitis.
The most common symptom that patients complain about is the:
- redness of affected areas of skin
- dry skin, which is often thickened in the areas that have been scratched
- lumps or blisters in affected areas
- crusty deposits due to superficial infection
Eczema occurs in both children and adults, but usually appears during infancy. Many people who have eczema also suffer from allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma, or have family members who have allergies.
95% of eczema patients often develop colonies of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on their skin as a result of the itching and scratching. The bacteria can exacerbate irritating symptoms of the disease. Bleach which has an antibacterial property, and as per the research, when applied on the skin works against...
bacteria thereby provides relief to the patients.
Where did the research take place and what is the outcome of research?
The study performed by the team at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Study included 31 patients, aged 6 months to 17 years old, with moderate or severe eczema with co-infection of Staphylococcus aureus. Each patient was given an identically labeled bleach bottle, but only half of the bottles actually contained bleach. Patients who received real bleach were told to use about a half-cup of bleach for a full standard tub and to soak the affected area in the solution for 5 to 10 minutes, twice a week. The placebo group was not given restrictions about the frequency of baths. After three months, researchers saw “a significant 67% decrease” in the severity of the symptoms of the group using the bleach compared with just 15% of those who bathed in normal water.
Robert Brodell, a professor of internal medicine and dermatology at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine describes the bath with bleach as an “adjunctive treatment,” which is to be used in conjunction with primary treatment like moisturizers and antibiotics. He said “It is a component that helps a bit, but it’s not God’s gift to eczema patients.”
Researchers say that the amount of bleach required for bathing is very small that makes the treatment odor-free, simple and safe. However, patients with severe skin damage such as cracking, baths with dilute bleach may initially be painful.
The latest finding of dilute bleach bath may offer an easy and inexpensive way of treating eczema at home. But patients are advised to consult with their physicians’ before starting the treatment and it is cautioned to avoid application of undiluted bleach directly on the skin. People who have contact allergy to chlorine should also not use bleach as a treatment option. Moreover all bleaches available in the stores are not same, companies like Clorox have ultra bleach with higher concentration that can cause serious problem to patients if used by mistake.