Bleach to Relieve Eczema Itching: Talk About a Toxic Bath!

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The New York Times reported that a  study was published in the Journal of Pediatrics showing the children who took a bath in a half a cup of bleach per full standard tub were relieved of their eczema related itching. The bleach apparently had very little odor and the children were relieved of the itching.

What Are The Risks With Bleach?

I worry that parents might not realize the risks and that there is now different concentrates of bleach and that you have to measure very carefully.

After all most children drink their bath water by accident or the water gets into their eyes. My children would always rub their eyes in the bath.  The potential for accidents concern me but Time Magazine explains that using the bleach bath might sound harsh but it’s safer than exposing children to antibiotics…

“The bottom line is that the more antibiotics we use, the higher the risk for something becoming resistant to them,” says Dr. Amy Paller, a study author, specialist in pediatric dermatology and chair of the dermatology department at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “The beauty of something like dilute bleach is that one doesn’t get resistance to it.”

Bleach Alternatives?

Kids Health offers many solutions and helpful tips, none of which include bleach. Avoiding harsh detergents, clothing and lotions instead are suggested. I’m not sure I would call bleach a mild detergent or soap.

kids skin

Eczema and Your Child

So what is eczema and why is that you would want to put bleach patches on your child’s skin or have them soak in a bath of bleach?

The online eczema center compares a bleach bath at home to swimming in a pool but will parents correctly mix the solution and aren’t may pools trying to switch from bleach to safer alternatives?

Besides, not all bleach solutions are the same and companies like Clorox have ultra bleach with high concentrates. Seems like a dangerous prescription for a doctor to give and easy mistake for concerned parents to make. I guess that is why I worry because when you go to a public pool the chemicals are measured (hopefully correctly) and tested for safe levels. Both my daughter and my niece suffer from eczema so I understand the frustration and wanting to help your child.

According to Keep Kids Healthy eczema is:

Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is a common problem in infants and children. It usually begins between two and six months of age with very dry and sensitive skin that will then become red and extremely itchy. It often starts on the forehead, cheeks and scalp and spreads to the trunk, creases of the elbows, knees, and wrists. With scratching the rash may become raw, crusted and weepy.

A March 2009 study claims that food allergies are not to blame for eczema but instead says environmental and seasonal allergies might be playing a role in the increased number of children being diagnosed and suffering from eczema. Eczema can be made worse by allergens like pollen, as well as irritants like soap or woolen clothing, according to the Institute.

“Research knowledge on eczema and allergies is growing quickly, so parents need to make sure that the information they are relying on is based on up-to-date evidence,” commented Professor Sawicki.

nut allergies

Link To Food Allergies?

I’m not sure I agree with the study totally ruling out food allergies. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology reports that there is often a link between allergies and eczema. Must Know Information on Bleach If you decide to use this determined “safe” remedy I would really like to point out some information about bleach and poisoning – the dangers associated with bleach. From Healthy Child Healthy Word:

Airways and lungs Breathing difficulty (from inhalation) Throat swelling (may also cause breathing difficulty) Pulmonary edema (water filling the lungs) Eyes, ears, nose, and throat Severe pain in the throat Severe pain or burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips, or tongue Loss of vision Gastrointestinal Severe abdominal pain Vomiting Burns of the esophagus (food pipe) Vomiting blood Blood in the stool Heart and blood vessels Hypotension (low blood pressure) develops rapidly Collapse Skin Irritation Burns Necrosis (holes) in the skin or underlying tissues Blood Severe change in acid levels of the blood (pH balance) which leads to damage in all of the body organs)

Many children I personally know with eczema also suffer from asthma and allergies (my daughter) and if  I used this bleach remedy it would likely throw her into a horrible asthma attack (even just a little because indoor pools do this to her).

Chlorine, Bleach & Asthma

Chlorine bleach has even been linked to childhood asthma but a year after this study was released another study comes out telling parents that it is okay to put their child in a bath with chlorine bleach – what?  Chlorine bleach is often something that many kids with allergies and asthma can be very sensitive to and the chlorine can cause a negative reaction. Personally, we opted out of taking my daughter to swimming lessons due to the high chlorine odor and what we felt it would do for her lungs; why would I put her in a bath of it and let her breath it? That is just me but I get that parents are looking for ways to help their child feel better and to stop the itching and infections….I really do get it!  I just worry about blanket statements and articles that could give well meaning parents the wrong idea and then an accident happens and they were just trying to help.

Natural Solutions To Problem

Natural Alternatives and Solutions for Eczema

There are a number of other alternatives that I would personally consider but everyone should contact their doctor and feel comfortable with their choice for treatment. Personally, using probiotics and other natural alternatives and food changes  to help “heal the gut” as well as avoiding all thing harsh on babies skin, using botanical solutions for pain relief and even seeking alternative medicine.

I like how Dr. Amy Well’s explains eczema and that creams and medicine doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Dr. Amy Well’s offers some great suggestions for helping naturally cure and deal with eczema. Some consistent ideas that I have found in my research on eczema (and from my daughter and niece suffering):

1. No Harsh Detergents. Do not use harsh detergents with phostphates, fragrances and chemicals. My sister personally uses detergent for babies with sensitive skin and loves how it does not irritate my nieces skin.

2.  Hydration. Keep babies skin moisturized with safe, fragrance free natural lotions to sooth the skin. A humidifier helps to keep the air moist and prevent skin from drying out feeling irritated.

3.  Clip Fingernails. Keep fingernails short. This helps prevent infection and baby or toddler from digging at the skin, causing an open soar.

4.  Food Diary. Consider diet and the book Raising Baby Green. The book talks about solutions and possible food allergies and alternatives.

5.  Environmental Allergies. Have your child tested for environmental allergies that could be causing the child to have a skin reaction. Personally, my daughter has a severe dust mite allergy and washing her bedding often and choosing organic bedding has been helpful.

Other helpful resources:

Dr. Green on eczema

Organic Baby Resource

Healthy Child Healthy World

Whatever it is that you try or decide to do for your child I know you have the best of intentions but talk with your doctor first and make sure you follow their instructions and use the correct concentrate of bleach if this is something you decide to try. I was just in the laundry aisle and I can see how easy it would be for someone to pick up the wrong concentrate of bleach by accident. And make sure if you decide this is an option you want to consider you have a window cracked open or the bathroom fan on!

79 thoughts on “Bleach to Relieve Eczema Itching: Talk About a Toxic Bath!”

  1. One of the many questions I have is why would antibiotics be prescribed for eczema? They really can find a “doctor” to say anything can’t they? What about bleach in the bath water of little girls? I know I wouldn’t want that in my private areas. Thanks for sharing this “very disturbing” article. I hope they are forced to recall it.

  2. I think it’s intended for secondary infections b/c of eczema and they’re saying it is dilluted like a pool so it wouldn’t be harmful. I agree it is disturbing and the root cause of eczema is not even addressed. I’ve found the doctors don’t even try to solve this with my familiy just give us a script.

  3. Thank you for this article. I wish i had read this 5 months ago when my allergist prescribed this for me (as an adult). I was at my whits end and willing to try anything. Here i was thinking this was safer than steroid creams. I’m not sure if it was coincidence or what, but i did feel like it helped my flare up for about 2 weeks…and then it did nothing but make my skin even drier.

    I’ve about had it with MDs. They dismiss my questions of food allergies or any underlying cause with “eczema is a chronic disease that you just have to get in check.” Well cutting out dairy, eggs and tomatoes healed my sons and cutting out chocolate, coffee, nuts, oats and soy have put mine on the mend. Even if you don’t test positive for food allergens, you might be sensitive to them. It’s worth looking at your diet.

  4. Thanks for commenting. I find logging what I give my daughter helps. She does fine with yogurt but if she has too much her skin is a mess. I think allergists and MD’s mean well but just b/c a study comes out doesn’t mean something is safe. We need to know more, do more digging, research and be able to ask questions without being made to feel stupid.

    My biggest fear is that parents will go online and read the PR like I did and try this, hurting their child on accident.

  5. Alice Burbine

    Why would anyone in their right mind want to bathe their child with bleach? It is a toxic, harsh chemical that causes many health problems especially in children. If anyone has ever heard of Renew lotion, that is the best lotion for exzema and psoriasis and there are no harsh chemicals in that lotion. Not only does bleach harm our children but also phosphates, lyes, amonia, formaldehyde, and more. These ingredients are found in most of our everyday household products.

    Alice Burbine’s last blog post..

  6. Thanks for posting this! Using 1 cup of raw apple cyder vinegar works wonders and its non-toxic. Also oatmeal baths is pretty soothing as well.

    I cant believe anyone would advocate using bleach! On children! I don’t even use it to clean our childless home!

    Carla’s last blog post..Green + Chic Baby Gift Sets

  7. I am SHOCKED that anyone would recommend bleach in a child’s bath?!?! I haven’t had bleach in my house since i found out i was pregnant with my first child (about 7 years ago) and i have yet to miss that nasty crapola in my house. I sure hope parents do their homework on this “solution” before potentially harming their children.

    thanks for the info 🙂

    Lizzie’s last blog post..The Sun

  8. @Lizze I agree I haven’t had bleach in my home for three years now and I’m wondering why I ever used the stuff. Who would miss the fumes? I can use for a whiter alternative or has an alternative. They exist if you have to have white. I use vinegar all the time and hydrogen peroxide.

    Again, I’m afraid parents will do this as a solution and hurt their kids without really researching. It scares me.

  9. I am totally mortified also with regards to this article. Swimming at your local pool is enough of chlorine. My children suffer from eczema and also alot of my friends children I had enough and I researched for products to help.. There were none that met my criteria so I made my own. We put it on before we go swimming to protect our skin. We are alot happier now and our children get to learn to swim such an important life skill to teach our precious children!

  10. That is just crazy! The only time I used bleach on my skin was a very very small amount in water because I had a very infected toe and it was make it better or go to the doctor lol. Now I even know better than that and would have used tea tree oil or something.

  11. It’s funny, but the older generations still think that bleach is harmless. My mom was just telling me that bleach was fine because you can add it to your drinking water to purify it! I know you can, but that doesnt mean you should!

  12. Bleach in what concentration and does it really purify it or just kill everything and then you’re drinking toxins? I think it is an old school mentality – true but I also think that bleach isn’t what it used to be either. Formulas and concentrations are different.

  13. I have a friend that used bleach in her bath water to relieve the itching of a yeast infection. I was shocked but she said it was wonderfully helpful.

  14. Sommer – Great post. What is interesting is that the subjects of the study had eczema with an infection – and the bleach was useful to address the infection, which makes sense in that bleach will kill the the cause of the infection. Which doesn’t mean that you should do it – there are other options to kill the cause of the infection without resorting to bleach. And none of those options were investigated, just bleach v. a placebo.

    More fundamentally, it doesn’t address the cause of the eczema . . enviromental cause, food cause, ?

    Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama’s last blog post..Invest in your Future by Living Green

  15. Perhaps you should do your research before right away assuming bleach is toxic.

    First off, a little chemistry lesson. Bleach is sodium hypochlorite in solution, usually 5-6%. That means about 5000-6000 ppm (parts per million) NaClO in water. This is exactly the same thing as liquid chlorine that is used for pools, which is just a higher concentration, usually 10-12%. Therefore, bleach can be (and is) used for chlorinating pools. It gives the same end result as using liquid chlorine or those white granules (triclor or cal-hypo) does. No difference.

    When adding bleach to water in the amounts prescribed in the article, a half-cup of bleach – 4 fl. oz. – to a tub containing 50 gallons of water yields a concentration of 40 ppm NaOCl. This concentration is not much more than what you would see in a swimming pool! Do you consider a properly-chlorinated pool toxic? I think not. Bleach is often used to sanitize drinking water, typically at the concentration of 15 ppm. US government regulations even allow a concentration of up to 200 ppm when sanitizing food processing equipment.

    Just because something is toxic at high concentrations doesn’t mean it is toxic at much lower concentrations. Carbon dioxide, the colorless, odorless gas that you exhale can kill you at high-enough concentrations. Even water is lethal if you drink enough of it.

  16. to the “informed” comment above. who ever said we wanted our kids swimming in a toxic pool?! i’d be all over a community pool with safer alternatives! out here many people use salt water pools.

    also, why are you so defensive about a bunch of people who don’t believe putting out children in bleach is a good thing? If i were to take a sip of it and it could kill me, my child is FOR SURE not bathing in it.

    green and clean mom hit the nail on the head with this article.

    Lizzie’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday, Vroom Vroom

  17. @Lizzie

    So having chlorine in a pool automatically makes it toxic? Studies have shown time and again that the levels of chlorine that are present in pools are not a health risk. Chlorine has shown to even be beneficial in treating staph infections as well as eczema. Of course the concentration that is present inside your bottle of bleach is toxic, but you aren’t just dumping it straight into a tub without diluting with water. There is a myriad of things that are beneficial in small doses and toxic in high doses: folic acid, water, even our vitamins.

    It appears that your (and most of the others that have posted) preconceptions about bleach/chlorine are clouding your judgment. I think it’s sad that this preconception could potentially prolong the suffering of somebody that has eczema after they read some of the things you guys have posted here. That’s ultimately why I have posted here.

    BTW, salt water pools have the same amount of chlorine in them than traditionally-chlorinated pools do. The chlorine is generated from the salt-water chlorine generator (SWG) that these pools use. By applying an electrical current to salt water, chlorine is separated from the sodium and that’s what sanitizes the pool. So salt water pools still use chlorine to sanitize.

  18. @ informed.

    why are you even on this web site if you don’t believe in a “green and clean” lifestyle?

    and why is it so wrong for people to have their own opinion?

    there is nothing wrong with being cautious of our child’s safety.

    Lizzie’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday, Vroom Vroom

  19. @Lizzie

    Well, bleach has a greenish tint and cleans stuff… 🙂

    Seriously, though. I wouldn’t say that I don’t believe in “green and clean”. I just think that bleach is getting a bad rap here. I wouldn’t consider it a harsh chemical when it is diluted to the concentrations used to treat eczema or in a swimming pool. Even full-strength bleach will degrade to saltwater in time (it does so very quickly in sunlight). I think it’s also from poorly-maintained pools that chlorine gets a bad stigma attached to it. A properly maintained pool will not have any odor nor will irritate the skin or eyes nor turn your hair green.

    In fact, using bleach to chlorinate a pool can be considered “green and clean” more so over other widely-accepted methods. It contains none of the unnecessary additives pool chemical companies add to their powdered-chlorine products. Bleach is one “B” in the “BBB” or “grocery store” method of pool care. It is called this because it uses only chemicals widely available – from any grocery store – to properly balance pool water (the other “B’s” are baking soda and borax). Not the junk that pool stores try to push on their customers that they don’t need. Look it up…

    Of course, the “greenness” of bleach is subjective, but when it is wholly dismissed based on incorrect assumptions, that’s another matter. Everybody is entitle to their opinion. It’s the supposed “facts” that I’m disputing.

  20. I cannot imagine sticking my kid in a bathtub with even diluted bleach. Just because some compare it to an overchlorinated pool does not make it good or safe. Here in Oregon, I had to excuse my kid from a swim class(sponsored by school)because the enclosed building and pool fumes trapped in set off his athsma. Chlorine gas was used to KILL people in war…and I knew a guy who would take a chlorine tablet(as used in pools); put ONE DROP of ‘xxxxx'(if I say it womebody will do it!)on the tablet,and it would produce a thick cloud of chlorine gas that would surely klil you if you hung around. He used it for pest control(moles). I think I will keep the bleach in the washing machine. why would I set my kid in something I would not use(even diluted)without rubber gloves!?

  21. Yes, indoor pools can exacerbate asthma symptoms, but mostly as a result of incorrectly maintained pools. It has been shown that chloramines – the byproduct of chlorine sanitization – much more so than free chlorine, are what causes asthma symptoms. Chloramines build up when the water is not properly chlorinated. It’s the odor of chloramines that most people associate with pools, not the chlorine itself.

    Let’s put concentrations into prospective. Yes, chlorine gas was used in WWI to kill. The concentration required to do so is around 1000ppm. Compare this to the concentration of chlorine gas vapor inside your bleach bottle – 30ppm. It just so happens that 30ppm is the threshold where health effects start to occur (That seems to be some reasoning behind the maximum allowable strength of bleach). The vapor concentration released by a pool will be much less than 1ppm, which shouldn’t be detectable by smell.

    As I’ve said before, just because something is deadly at high concentrations doesn’t mean it is harmful at low concentrations. Take carbon dioxide, the gas we exhale, for instance. There is a concentration of roughly 400ppm in the atmosphere. Yet at 80,000ppm, it can be lethal. The fizz in soda pop is PURE carbon dioxide! Does that mean soda pop will kill you??? I don’t think so. So why is chlorine bad regardless of the concentration?

  22. if you are fine with your child in a swimming pool (full of chlorine) you should be ok with a half cup of bleach in their full bathtub to get rid of their ailments

  23. also if there was an emergency or disaster, and you dont have bottled water stowed away, you can fill a bathtub with water, and put a tablespoon on bleach in it to keep it clean enough to drink while stagnant.

  24. Actually I am not fine with chlorine pools for the most part but also…the issue here is misunderstanding and the chance of parents using too much bleach or concentrated bleach. Many pools are switching to safer alternatives.

  25. I have yet to hear how “Many pools are switching to safer alternatives.” ? Using what? Are you sure that there is no bleach in this “safer alternative”? I have used the bleach in the water with my 8 mo. old because her skin looked like it was going to fall off. As a mother do you realize how heart breaking that is? Since using the bleach in her water, I can show you pictures of her skin to be fully HEALED! No sign of Eczema anywhere! It may not be for some people and I don’t think you should use it long term, but for a quick fix, I think it’s a beautiful thing… I have tried every “natural” cure you can possibly post or think of. I have tried EVERYTHING! This works…

  26. Sara,

    You did what you believed is best for your daughter, there is no fault in that. The problem comes into play when people misunderstand the information and how it is supposed to be used – for infections and skin problems like your daughter is having. The fear is the misunderstanding and parents not being careful and doing it correctly. When it is published the way it was people do misunderstand and try things that can indeed hurt their child. I’m sorry you your daughter’s skin hurts her and she has those problems. No mother wants this.

  27. Someone forwarded this article to me a while ago, and when I read the headline, I thought it was a joke. Both of my children suffer from eczema, and while it is heartbreaking to deal with, I couldn’t imagine being desperate enough to add bleach in any amount to their bath water. I don’t even use it to wash clothes! The fumes alone make me lightheaded (so do the fumes from swimming pools), I couldn’t imagine what it would do to my little people.

    Elisa’s last blog post..Let’s Not Get it Twisted!

  28. You should always avoid chemicals of any kind. Usually you can find an herbal substitute in a Chinese neighborhood, and herbs are very safe because they are natural.

  29. I don’t know how many moms are aware of this, but lots of water systems are now using Chloramine instead of chlorine to disinfect their water supply. Chloramine is chlorine plus 20% AMMONIA, if you can believe that! And the Chloramine is causing a lot of people to have major skin irritations, especially sensitive children. Sometimes all we need to do is filter out the chloramine and the skin problems go away. Filtering out either chlorine or chloramine is a good idea anyway because skin – again especially the delicate skin of children – absorbs chemicals in just a few seconds of being in the bath.
    Call your water department to see if you have Chloramines if your kids are having dry, scaley, red patches.

  30. Despite their insistence at Camp Baby that the dioxane 1, 9 in their baby wash is harmless and no more than what is found in shellfish and fried chicken (WTH???), BOTH of my kids’ eczema cleared up when I stopped using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Wash and Baby Shampoo a couple years ago.

    The idea that soaking their delicate skin in bleach water would somehow be beneficial to them is just insane.

    It was very nice to meet you at BlogHer. I have a cute pic of us together from the Nikon party. When I finally get around to uploading it somewhere, I’ll let you know.

  31. I’m glad you wrote about this, I too was shocked, amazed, flabergasted by this “report”. My son, now 17, has been dealing with ezcema from day 1. At the time, the doctors insisted that there is “no connection between food allergies and ezcema or even asthma”. By age 2 he also had asthma. When we finally convinced the doctors to do an allergy test shortly before his first birthday, the Allergist came out and APOLOGIZED to us because the list of food reactions went off the chart. Our solution to ezcema was not more topical steroids, but rather to avoid the allergens – no soy, no peas, no beans, no nuts, no corn…clear skin!
    In the spirit of full disclosure though, I will agree that spending all day at the pool helped his skin by keeping it dry on those occasions when he did break out – try avoiding corn and soy in an American diet, almost impossible.
    What is now several years ago, we spent two glorious years living outside of the country and to my sons glee, free of ubiquitous soy and corn ingredients. Needless to say, no need for chlorine baths there. And the vindication, his doctor, upon learning that our son has asthma, asked if he also has ezcema and food allergies. Amazing!
    Back in the States and 16 years after starting our discovery, we still have to convince his doctors of the DIRECT connection between his food intake and his ezcema outbreaks. What I don’t understand is why it seems harder and harder to avoid the allergens even though we read the ingredients religiously – even allowing for slip-ups due to his being a teenager and prone to yielding to a teenage diet. The commercial foods he used to be able to eat, he can no longer eat without a reaction. If only our health care debate would also include a discussion on the quality of our food!
    Lastly, before I go, I recently installed a filter on our shower, and OH HOW NICE! The water smells fresh like rain, and my skin doesn’t require gallons of moisturizer.

  32. SisterNotes, well those long days at the pool helped huh? I have eliminated everything from my diet and reintroduced it to see if there was a flare up. I do believe diet has something to do with eczema and so does our great Doctor. Bao’s seems to be tomatoes. I do not eat wheat or dairy already, We eliminated that from my diet when I was pregnant with her. She doesn’t eat junk food she is 9 mos old. No chemicals on her food either. I don’t have to give her bleach baths anymore because we go to swim class once a week and by Wednesday if she does have a flare up before Monday, it’s gone by Wednesday.

    I feel bad for the childern that are suffering with eczema and you don’t try this remedy. It really works and helps with the bacteria and itch. We don’t have to use a “cream” we use a great lotion and that’s it.

    Anyone wanting to try this don’t feel bad if you are doing what you can for your baby… people will try to make you feel like a horrible Mother no matter what you do.

  33. I have eczema and so does my 2 year old son. I would never put bleach in our water for it. If you or anyone you know has eczema, SHEA butter. 100% pure shea butter. Nothing you can get at a drugstore, nothing with added ingredients. It’s the added fragrances and “preservatives” that are added to most products that will flare the ezcema. There is a lady at our local farmers market who sells shea butter, and it is the only thing I will use on my son. Pre de Provence also has a tin they sell for maybe $20, you can find it online. It is completely natural and good for your skin, as bleach is NOT. I am an aesthetician as well, and I would never advise anyone to put bleach in their bath. There are so many natural alternatives for skin problems, please do not use bleach! And always go with your instinct and don’t believe what a doctor says b/c they are a “doctor”.

  34. People need to understand that everyone’s eczema responds differently. Whatever works for you, fantastic! But I’m weary of reading someone preaching that what has worked for them is what everyone else needs to do too.

    I’ve tried near everything, and for me the only thing that’s worked is sun exposure with pool water, and a simple fan.

    Be smart. Chlorine is the main cleansing agent in bleach. So swimming pool water is a diluted version of bleached water. Oceans also have alot of chloride ions in it–which is likey one of the reasons why some people’s eczema is relieved after an ocean swim. I can see how someone might freak out about adding bleach to bathtub water–I mean it’s vitally important that the absolute correct amount be added and no more. But if the mathwork creates too much anxiety, just go for a swim in the pool and see if it works. If it doesn’t, then try something else. That’s all.

    I’ve not read ANYWHERE about a simple fan. If it works for someone else, here’s my two cents. The cool air flow soothes/chills my skin and completely 100% relieves the itch. It is inexpensive and no side effects.

    I should also mention: a couple days ago on youtube I came across “Repcillin” ( I’m in the process of checking it out. It’s African crocodile oil. Apparently it’s helping alot of people worldwide. Currently it’s going through U.S. clinical trials and eventual FDA approval. So far there are no side effects.

    Good luck to everyone with eczema. I hope everyone finds a cure or at least enough palliative measures to make everyday liveable and enjoyable.

  35. Greenandcleanmom, you know that these “salt-water pools” you’re SO excited about USE CHLORINE, right? They use a generator which separates salt (NaCl) into it’s original components, which creates chlorine, and chlorinates the pool. Maybe if YOU did a little “research” as you accused us of not doing, you’d be better informed. And by the way, the bleach studies are BASED on research and I suggest you go back and carefully reread that other commenter’s posts like I did…or wait, was it too hard to understand?

    I was an avid reader of this blog when I first found it a few weeks ago, but now I’m REALLY disappointed.

  36. My wife is suffering from eczema

    After reading this blog and the replies, here’s my “two cents worth.” IF you make the decision to use chlorine in a bath do it with a good reason, and MAKE SURE you are using bleach that has ONLY Sodium Hypochlorite as its ingredient–some new bleaches (including “Splashless” or “Exterior”) include lye, detergent, or various scents that might create a problem for you or your child. Look for “Regular Bleach” or “Ultra” bleach (only a minor difference in concentration). Even a 40 ppm bath of plain chlorine bleach & water should only be for a little while (a few minutes), and strictly supervised–and I imagine it could lead to drying of the skin and hair–so take care.

    On swimming pools–and I am a pool care professional–if you can smell a “chlorine odor,” it is because there is not enough chlorine in the pool to handle the crud put in there by the bathers! Increasing the chlorine in such a pool will solve the problem. A balanced pool should be around 1 to 2 ppm of chlorine to counteract what our bodies do to them. And finally, don’t believe that “alternative sanitation” methods in pools are without chlorine. Even salt water pools, if properly operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions, have a chlorine residual of 1 to 2 ppm of chlorine, just like the other chlorine pools have. The only difference is that the owners don’t have to add chlorine, as they generate it using salt and electricity.

    Anyway, I hope any of you suffering from eczema out there find some relief from SOMETHING, whether it is ocean swimming, pool swimming, or chlorine baths! There is just such a variety and difference in everybody’s experience with this debilitating problem.

  37. Dr. Aardvarkian

    I see that there is an awful lot of misunderstanding on this forum. I have had eczema my entire life; now I have tried the bleach solution. Bleach, when diluted, is purely an antiseptic. It’s no more powerful than Dettol, a chlorine pool and indeed the ocean. The bleach doesn’t CURE the eczema, it kills the numerous skin-borne bacteria that can cause itchiness. Normally, that bacteria is quite benign, but combine it with eczema and it gets out of hand.

    What is happening here is an association-game. House-mothers with no chemistry experience hear the word ‘bleach’ and freak out, despite several posters, who clearly know their chemicals telling you its safe. Instead people suggest the most ridiculous ‘natural’ solutions.

    There is no such thing as ‘natural’ alternative. There are just less efficient ones that sound pretty and carry a huge placebo effect. Why do you think Chemists, Biologists and medical professionals don’t know what they are talking about? IT’S THEIR JOB.

    My advice to any parent who has a child with eczema is to get their child into the ocean as much as possible. The other option is to bathe in salt water and rub them down with sand. Why? Because the chemical qualities of sea salt kill the bacteria (because of its relationship with chlorine). Secondly, the sand exfoliates the dead skin that causes itching.

    It’s about time that people realise the difference between ‘living green’ and ‘living intelligently’.

  38. Thank you for your comment. I think that what is most concerning is that parenting magazines and articles are saying this is a solution but are not telling parents how to do this or that the study was surrounding infections due to eczema. Parents can easily buy the concentrated version of bleach and it can do more harm that good. It is about understanding how to do this if you choose to do it and yes, being smart, asking questions and not just trying some home remedy without knowledge.

  39. Just want to know if out of all these people that say my child has eczema but I would NEVER consider this have mild or severe eczema? My 7 year old boy has very severe eczema and is ananphalactic. He gets staph infections so bad that his skin actually bubbles with huge fluid filled blisters! I am talking 4cm round and over legs hands feet! Very very painful! This has become common due to the fact his system is very down and he is not resisting any little infections! We have a specialist in charge of him and have some ok results with steroids, creams, antibiotics etc etc!! This is the life of a severe allergy sufferer not just mild skin irritations!! Reason I am saying this is because if you live through this daily you WILL try ANYTHING! I AM going to try the bath tonight! If I can relieve his pain and have an extra hour at night not rubbing in creams etc this would give me time to spend on my two other children who have no allergies but live with the crying and pain daily! Please don’t judge people for wanting to try alternatives to steroids etc, this is a very tough thing to live through. To see your child bleeding and crying, scratching and bandaged just tears you apart. Natural remedies have done nothing for our son AT ALL! We all need to start saying no to foods packed with rubbish and demand healthier options. We are raising our kids into a very mucked up world full of junk laden foods and intolerance to others….sad I think!

  40. I am a 44 yr old woman who has suffered with eczema my entire life. Recently, the eczema has gotten so bad that my feet and hands are raw. I am in agony and embarrassed. I tried the bleach bath because after years of creams, lotions, and pills-notjing is working. I soaked my feet in a basin of water and bleach. I am amazed at the results. It was noticable the next day.
    I am now on day 3 and even my son is shocked at the results. I have been soaking my hands and feet every night. I also soak a clean wash cloth in the water and wipe down patches that appear. Nothing has worked better than this. I have spent thousands of dollars on creams, shots and light therapy and have had no success. I cannot reduce all the contact with allergins because I am allergic to EVERYTHING.
    For anyone who has suffered with eczema like I have-try it. You only have 2 dollards to lose. But 1 word of advice-lotion and lots of it. Find a moisturizer that your skin will tolerate and after soaking with the bleach-lotion up.

  41. Peggy,

    I am so sorry that you have suffered like this, thank you for sharing your story. I think it is good to keep in mind that this solution is for infections and the way it was presented was for children and parents can be misleading and done incorrectly or when not necessary.

  42. As a chemist and biochemist, I agree with the scientific posts here: bleach is not toxic in low concentrations. And, yes, bleach is produced electrolytically in “salt” pools. It is only toxic in the acute sense (rapid exposure to high concentrations) and does not carry concerns of chronic exposure. It is an oxidant (think anti-antioxidant) and quickly reacts with the first dead layer of skin and bacteria to produce plain old salt. Believe it or not, we’re not very fragile creatures, and as someone who has literally washed my hands in much more harmful chemicals, I assure you, there is very little chance of real harm to a child.

    I applaud the growing consensus that the method could be wrongly applied and cause undue harm to a child. It is always good to err on the side of caution, particularly with things you don’t fully understand. If I were to re-wire my house, I would take precautions that I’m sure an electrician would not. So be cautious, apply some common sense, and if your child complains, rinse them well with fresh water. Next time, add less bleach or a little more water. Just don’t freak out!

  43. BTW, a half-cup of bleach per 40 gallons is equivalent to about 1/2 tsp of bleach per 1 gallon. If you’re trying to make a small quantity of the same bleach solution, go with this ratio. I wouldn’t try to measure any less using household utensils.

  44. Matt, thank you for commenting. Again, it might be not be toxic in “low” concentrations assuming that the parent is using it correctly and is informed. Another issue not addressed here is breathing the fumes and venelation – in my bathroom this would cause me to have breathing issues let alone my child with asthma.

  45. Hysteria aside…we have been battling exczema with our 4 year old her entire life.

    THE BLEACH BATH WORKS PEOPLE! It doesn’t cure just keeps the skin infections at bay and help keep the irritation to a minimum.

    I have tried enough “miracle cures” to know that everything has either failed to work at all or stops working after a brief period. This is the first simple remedy we have tried that we can honestly say has made a significant difference to our child’s well being. This includes trying sea salt in the bath water.

    I feel sorry for the kids whose parents WON’T try this for silly “green” uninformed simplistic reasons.

    Get over it people and help your kids.

  46. I am glad that it worked for you, you feel comfortable and that hopefully did it correctly. I don’t think people say no to bleach water and their child for “silly green uniformed” reasons – but the thoughts of bleach in my child’s bath water causes an eye brow to raise.

    Regardless, it is about choices and making informed ones for your family.

  47. After bathing dry the skin by patting instead of rubbing to avoid skin acnee. Because your child may be sensitive to many substances, avoid fragrant bath oils and products that may have harsh ingredients.

  48. Hi Peggy, I too suffer from eczema (I'm 47 yrs. old), and have had this particular breakout for 2 years. I am very interested in trying the bleach bath. Could you tell me how long it took before you feel your skin healed? I have spent hundreds of dollars on creams and treatment, and it's been 2 years of hell. Did you use a particular brand of bleach? From what I've heard it's important not to use “super strength” bleach. How many times a week did bath? I have the dry type of eczema (not weeping type), so I know this will dry out my skin further, but worth a try. Also, did you add 1/2 cup to a full bath, or 1 cup?Thanks so much, Gwen

  49. Hi Peggy, I too suffer from eczema (I'm 47 yrs. old), and have had this particular breakout for 2 years. I am very interested in trying the bleach bath. Could you tell me how long it took before you feel your skin healed? I have spent hundreds of dollars on creams and treatment, and it's been 2 years of hell. Did you use a particular brand of bleach? From what I've heard it's important not to use “super strength” bleach. How many times a week did bath? I have the dry type of eczema (not weeping type), so I know this will dry out my skin further, but worth a try. Also, did you add 1/2 cup to a full bath, or 1 cup?Thanks so much, Gwen

  50. The facts are pointed out to allow those who are not fully educated understand the chemistry link and difference in bleach diluted water and your “safer alternatives”. Error on the side of caution for sure, but you need to know what you are writing about before you post an opinion.

  51. I have tried the bleach solution on myself and it worked really well for me. My husband tried the bleach solution on his eczema and it worked real well for him. I used about 1/5 of a cup of ordinary bleach (which is 6% hypocholorite on the label) in an ordinary size tub that was like a foot deep and I tried to soak all my problem areas about 10 minutes. This is the most effective eczema remedy I have found. For toddlers in a baby bath, it would be easy to make the solution too strong. You can use only about one to two teaspoons of 6% hypochlorite bleach (ordinary Chlorox) for a baby bath. Those baby tubs are very small and a teaspoon is such a tiny amount that it would be easy to make a mistake.

  52. greenandcleanmom

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I'm glad this worked for you and made a difference for your skin and gave you and/or your husband relief. I think you made a very good point and it is exactly what I am trying to say, it is easy to make a mistake with little babies and misunderstand how to do this correctly. That is what scares me.

  53. My daughter has a very severe form of eczema AND asthma and we have tried the bleach in the bathwater and it DOES work and it IS safe…just saying.

  54. The bleach bath (quarter cup per tubfull) has done wonders for our grandson. He is eosinophillic and has suffered since six months old with itching, scabs and bleeding skin from the scratching. After a week of the bleach bath his skin is so much improved and less itching. Its so good to see his hands looking human again…a hugh improvement! His new dermatologist recommended the baths.

  55. Unfortunately because eczema can be such a devastating and debilitating condition sufferers are willing to try just about anything to treat and prevent it. Personally I think the health risks associated with bleach aren't worth the so called benefits.

    Especially when it comes to children, what if they were to swallow some? a higher concentration is capable of damaging skin and eyes as it is a corrosive. Not to mention eczema suffers can often be susceptible to other sensitive conditions such as allergies and asthma. One can only imagine the consequences of bleach on the respiratory system.

  56. This practice is nothing new…people in southern african american communities have been doing this for years. All of my baths as a child contained bleach & they still do. I bathe my son in a bleach solution & have been for the past 7 of his 9 yrs. It does nothing at all to his asthma. Nobody said to pour the whole bottle in…you have to use common sense. I dilute 1/3 of a cup of reg Clorox into a tub of water & my son has been fine. Didnt realize I could credit his bath for taming his eczema too so that's a bonus. Just because YOU don't believe in it doesn't make it dangerous or wrong.

  57. Hi,

    Eczema causes the skin to become inflamed or irritated. As parents it's very hard for us to bear seeing our child suffering from skin condition. So, as much as we want to parents do everything to finds solution to this.

    And you're right bleach is hazardous. We can't compromise our children's health either for this. Do you know if many still practice using bleach as cure to eczema? I really don't think it's a good idea.

    -Angella Wilson
    My Last Blog Post Revitol Stretch Mark Cream Review

  58. I don't believe that you understand what severe eczema is. My child has had open wounds on his body since he was a baby due to severe eczema, and now my new baby has it. Both my babies have been (and are currently) breast fed I grew up with severe eczema and we have NO scented soaps or detergents in our house, we take serious precautions when eating and going outside so as to avoid any allergic reaction and yet still, all three of us suffer. I don't believe you understand what kind of suffering it is, and if you do I think you are crazy for trying to talk people who live with this everyday out of trying to find a sollution.

    My advice: Talk to you doctor. Make sure you clear it first. My family doctor is researching this remedy right now and will follow up with me in a few days about how to safely do this. Seriously though, I don't know many people who would do this without researching and consulting a doctor. I think it's extremly arrogant of you to be so concerned that so many parents might not be smart enough to figure out that pouring a bottle of bleach into a shallow bath could harm their child, really, what a silly waste of time for you…do you go door to door warning people of their certain demise as well?

  59. Meh, swimming in a local pool is worse than a 1/2 cup of bleach in a bath. I have tried and recommended bleach bathing, its not only to fight infection, but to prevent it and incidental it really helps with that awful insane eczema itch, which if scratched with dirty nails, can cause infection.
    Bleach baths are awesome, and they can work and be a great addition to the skin routine in people with eczema.

  60. My 2-yr old has had eczema nearly his whole young life. From birth, he never had soft baby skin, but felt rough and he always smelled a little funny. Cradle Cap turned into blotchy skin which became eczema flare ups. Mutliple Rx creams helped little.

    People told me to keep him out of the pool as it would irritate his skin, so I did the first year. It's been so hot this summer, though, I said 'screw it' and took him in. He's been going in the pool everyday now for two weeks and from day three, his eczema completely cleared up, even without Rx cream.

    It rained for a week and we couldn't go in and the eczema flared back up despite resuming all the Rx creams. When the sun came out, we went back in everyday and sure enough, it's clear. He likes to splash, so he gets enough on his face to clear that up, too. I just have to keep him from drinking the pool water.

    I'm considering the bleach baths, but for now the chlorine in the pool does the trick.

  61. when I owned a pool, I noticed that if I had a skin problem, it would clear up after being in the chlorinated water. So I began putting a small amount of bleach in my bath water when I had a problem, and it always cleared it up. Not very much bleach needed in the tub! I would use it again if I found it necessary

  62. Rachel_Alicia

    My first child had eczema and it was treatable with mild lotion like cetaphil, we avoided harsh detergents, double rinsed everything and luckily he's outgrown it for the most part.
    The second child, nothing natural worked. We had him tested for food allergies, the dermatologist put him on numerous steroids (oral and topical) and eventually Elidel which I later found is “blackboxed” for children under 2.
    We started bleach baths at concentration of 1 tsp/1 gallon of water twice a week (with the approval of our pediatrician) and it was an absolute miracle. He's now off of all the medications and we're able to only do the baths once/week. I put the kiddo without eczema in the bath at the same time because there's an added benefit of reducing the chance of other skin infections like MRSA.
    I agree with you that there's not enough in the articles about how to do it and at what concentration. I did a lot of research and tried it on myself before I did it with the kids.
    I let the kids “soak” for about 10-15 minutes in what ended up being 1/4 C of regular bleach (after measuring for the 1 tsp/1 gallon concentration) added to the water, towel dry, lotion them up with Cetaphil.

  63. It's a good article! Almost 1 in every 10 babies have eczema- and for a mother to watch her child suffer with this skin condition – will drive her to try anything and understandably so. But it is the with the help of other mothers who tried and tested this and comments like you have on your blog post that helps convince them.


  64. I am sorry but a physician told you that it is not harmful to use the bleach water. Can't you just believe someone who knows more than you.

  65. greenandcleanmom

    Thank you for your comment. I think it would depend on what physician you spoke with but if you read the entire post the concern isn't the bleach in the water as much as parent using the correct dosage and following the physician recommendations because we now have concentrated bleach for sale. It is not about believing someone that knows more than you – that is not what is in question or what we are discussing.

  66. My goodness, such a polarization of opinions on bleach! Some hear the word bleach and run screaming “bad…bad…bad!” Umm, it’s not. When we had a flood here years ago, we were told to put X amount of drops of bleach in each gallon of DRINKING water to sanitize it. We ingested it. WE didn’t keel over. My suggestion for baby bath tubs would be to fill a gallon jug with water, dump in baby tub, repeat til you get to the amount you normally put in for bath. Mark that point with permanent marker on outside, along with how many gals that is. That gives you accuracy when putting in the amount of bleach per gal.of water. I’ve got a severely eczematic grandbaby that it was tried on, and it worked where none of the prescriptions were making a difference. If need be, measure the amount needed outside into a cup or small jar, cover and carry to the already water filled tub, submerse, open, and swish. That minimizes the smell of bleach in the air. Even water is dangerous in the wrong amounts and used wrong.

  67. With all due respect, any treatment/medication prescribed by a physician can be misinterpreted by a patient…this is not a good reason to bash a treatment that has been proven to be effective and safe. You are basically saying that anything that needs to be measured accurately is detrimental to children.

  68. greenandcleanmom

    Thanks for the comment. You are correct we can all misinterpret information and if this treatment used correctly helps a child and a parent is comfortable with it then I cannot judge. It just concerns me because of the number of poison cases that happen each year because of bleach and the different concentrations that bleach now comes in. It is something for parents to be made aware of, should the decide to use this treatment. Again, thanks for the comment and there is no bashing here – it is a conversation and I’m simply raising awareness and my own personal alarm to the treatment – though I understand that it does help some children when used correctly. Have a nice day.

  69. greenandcleanmom

    Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your honest opinion and telling us of your experience. I have heard this many times. I just worry that parents won’t dilute properly, especially with so many different concentrates of bleach on the market. It could happen easily. Being informed is what is important. Again, thank you for telling us of your experiences. I’m sorry you suffer from eczema, my niece does and it is terrible.

  70. I don’t suppose you have considered what is in a swimming pool? I’m sure you would not allow your children to swim in a pool that had not been treated and most pools are treated with chlorine bleach. It has long been reported that after an hour or so in a swimming pool, excema or dermatitis is relieved. When you talk of the dangers of bleach poisoning, this is strong or undiluted bleach, not the .005% to 078% dilution of bleach with water that is recommended for excema.

  71. Absolutely! My biggest concern is the different concentrates and parents not measuring correctly when doctors tell them to do this. I know that my niece goes in her hot tub to help her eczema but they measure the ph and the chemicals carefully. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

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