Bleach Bath and Eczema

Webmasters Comment: The following post has been written by Nicola Housam who is a Dermatology Advanced Nurse Practitioner at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital. The views expressed are her own and great care should be taken if you wish to try this process. If you are unsure then professional guidance should be sought. This post should be read in conjunction with our disclaimer which can be found at http://www.nottinghameczema.org.uk/disclaimer.aspx

Patients and parents always look at me with a mixture of fear and I can’t possibly do that, when I ask them to bleach bath for their eczema. Mostly I think they feel I am a touch eccentric (possibly true). However comparing the treatment to a swimming pool often allays those fears. Bleach bathing is a safe way to control the bacteria which can be associated with driving the flares of eczema as well as reducing the requirement for antibiotics to treat infected flares.

Using Milton® fluid is always recommended as it contains no sensitisers which may irritate. You must measure accurately the quantity and the water should not be too hot.

It is important you immerse completely in the water, adults close your eyes and duck under. Children get them to play just like at the pool, swimming googles can help along with blowing bubbles in the water. The bacteria love to live in the hair, behind your ears and up your nose. If you just sit there the bacteria will too. If the child accidently swallows some remember it’s just like a swimming pool it won’t hurt.

No more than 10 minutes in the water is essential, followed by a rinse in fresh water, this ensures no residue is left. Then as always pat your skin dry never rub.

Followed by your recommended emollient, lots of them, the ointments are better though.

Do not add anything else to the water only the Milton®, if you would like to wash in your soap substitute please do that at the rinse phase.

Be warned one of my parents had her bleach bath jogging bottoms as her child loved their special baths and splashed lots!!! She lost a few pairs of black leggings.

I recommend twice weekly as routine, some of my patients increase this to 3 times weekly for one week if they are having a flare. It is safe to do this. I was a swimming teacher many years ago, children and adults spent hours training in the swimming pool, they are all fit and well. I have been using the technique now for 3 years with only one patient not liking it.

I have children who ask now for their special baths because they feel better and it reduces their itching, as bacteria can increase the terrible itch.

Webmasters Comment: The following are a list of basic precautions.
1. Never use undiluted bleach directly on skin
2. Keep bleach bottle out of reach of children
3. Antiseptic baths may sting if there are lots of breaks and open areas in the skin
4. Avoid any direct contact of bleach with eyes. If this happens, rinse with lots of fresh water. Seek medical advice if eye discomfort or problems with eyesight occurs
5. Do not swallow bleach. Seek medical attention immediately if any of the liquid has been swallowed
6. Do not use antiseptic baths in those with a known contact allergy to chlorine
7. Direct contact of bleach solution may whiten clothing or towels

Further information can be found at
http://www.nottinghameczema.org.uk/documents/antisepticbath36abthjuly17.pdf

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