Friday, May 3, 2013

Bleach Baths for Preschoolers (with Eczema)

My boy Bolt is 4 years old and has had eczema, literally since the day he was born. We recently started giving him dilute bleach baths (approximately 0.005%) as a way to keep his skin clean and free of bacteria, specifically Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as staph. According to this article, from the London Eczema Society, less than 10% of healthy individuals have staph on their skin, but almost all eczema sufferers have staph somewhere on their skin. 

I'll admit, the idea of bathing my child in bleach did not appeal to me initially. In fact, people have been casually mentioning it to me for about two years, but I just couldn't get on board. However, a few months ago, I couldn't get Bolt's eczema under control; his hands were constantly raw and his legs, arms and torso were covered with small bleeding and/or raw sores.

We started by applying some prescription antibiotic cream followed by a 10 day course of oral antibiotics to get the infection under control. It's only the second time he's needed antibiotics for his skin, but its frequent enough that I wanted to find a way to prevent these occurences rather than treat them after the fact.

So this time, when a friend mentioned how successful bleach baths had been for managing her daughter's eczema, I listened. I asked questions, I read articles and talked to other friends who were using the treatment before I went to my doctor to discuss bleach baths as a possible method to control Bolt's eczema.

Coincidentally, my doctor had recently received an email regarding the use of bleach baths for eczema and after reviewing the material and providing me with a copy of the article, she encouraged me to try it. Although the studies indicated we should have a bleach bath twice a week, we started out by having them every fourth day. Bolt consistently scratched himself raw on the third evening.

Now, both my son and I are have a bleach bath every three days and there has been a noticeable decrease in the amount of scratching, bleeding and discomfort we are both experiencing. I personally have a patch of eczema that has been irritated since Simba was born two years ago, and its finally healing.

I'm no doctor, but I am a Mom and right now I am a believer in the power of bleach to ward off staph. I whole heartedly believe you should talk to your doctor before trying any new eczema treatments for your child. If you and your medical practitioner decide this might be an option for your family, I encourage you to give it a try. We've been having bleach baths for about a month now since I already had bleach in my house, it hasn't cost us a cent.

For those of you who are interested, here's a summary of what we're doing.

Bleach Baths for Eczema
(to be repeated every three days)

  • Fill bath half full with warm water
  • Add 1/4 cup of bleach to the bath and mix well (I usually add 2 capfuls)
  • Have your child bathe in the water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Rinse your child with warm, clean water.
  • Pat dry.
  • Follow your regular mouisturizing regime.