Itching, scratching and the immune dysregulation involved with eczema lead to an increased risk of infection from superficial skin flora, especially Staphylococcus aureus. One technique that can help decrease the number of infections and possibly reduce the need for antibiotics is called a bleach bath.
Here’s how to make one:
1. Start by adding lukewarm water to fill a tub for a normal bath (about 40 gallons).
2. Put 1/4 to 1/2 cup of common liquid bleach (for example, Clorox) into the bath water. Check the bleach bottle to make sure that the concentration of bleach (also known as sodium hypochlorite) is about 6 percent.
3. Completely mix the added bleach in the water. This should create a solution of diluted bleach (about 0.005 percent), which is just a little stronger than chlorinated swimming pool water.
4. Soak in the chlorinated water for about 10 minutes.
5. Thoroughly rinse the skin clear with lukewarm, fresh water at the end of the bleach bath.
6. As soon as you’re finished rinsing off, pat dry. Do not rub dry, as this is the same as scratching!
7. Immediately apply any prescribed medication and/or emollients.
8. Repeat bleach baths two to three times a week or as prescribed by the physician.
Please read the following restrictions:
- Do NOT use undiluted bleach directly on the skin. Even diluted bleach baths can potentially cause dryness and/or irritation.
- Do NOT use bleach baths if there are many breaks or open areas in the skin (for fear of intense stinging and burning).
- Do NOT use bleach baths in children with a known contact allergy to chlorine.