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What are bleach baths and why are they used with eczema?

What are bleach baths and why are they used with eczema? Well, the eczema, which is a chronic skin condition, hallmarked by excessive water loss and dryness of the skin, as well as periods of intense inflammation and irritation. The bacteria that live on our skin, and all of us have bacteria on our skin, the most common one is called staphylococcus.

Unfortunately, with eczema, sometimes the skin gets broken from scratching, and it can become, you know, it can have bleeding and things like that that allows some of that bacteria to actually get inside the top layer of the skin. And then the children with eczema can actually have worsened eczema over time as the body kind of reacts to that bacterial infection.

So, what bleach baths do is it helps decrease the colonization of these common bacteria on the outer part of the skin. It's very safe to do. It's not, we want to dilute it, of course, because it can be irritating to just use straight bleach. But there's different recipes that can be used. But more often than not, it's a quarter cup of bleach in a regular, you know, lukewarm bath filled with water. And then usually that's done about two or three times a week. And for those who are prone to have super infection of their eczema, that can be very beneficial to help reduce that infection and reduce the severity of eczema.

Now, in order to get to the level of using bleach baths, more often than not, children have to sort of have proven persistent eczema or have, you know, proven colonization through swabs on their skin and cultures of the bacteria or they've really failed, you know, several steps of medical therapy before we get there. But bleach baths can be a very, very useful option for those children who suffer from severe eczema, especially if they're prone to bacterial superinfection.

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
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David Stukus, MD, is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Allergy and Immunology, Director of the Food Allergy Treatment Center, and Associate Director of the Pediatric Allergy and Immunology Fellowship Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University College of Medicine. He is board certified in allergy/immunology and pediatrics.

Dr. Stukus has devoted his career to communicating evidence-based medicine and best clinical practice to colleagues, medical professionals of all backgrounds, patients, and the general public. In addition to providing clinical care for children with all types of allergic conditions, he participates in clinical research, quality improvement, patient advocacy, and medical education.

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