Eczema and bleach baths: Follow dermatologists’ instructions to keep children safe

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (Jan. 14, 2014) —

Eczema is a common skin condition in children, which begins with very itchy skin. Scratching can cause a rash that can become infected. If your child’s eczema is frequently infected, your child’s dermatologist may recommend bleach bath therapy.

“Bleach baths can be helpful for many children who have moderate to severe eczema,” said board-certified dermatologist Lawrence F. Eichenfield, MD, FAAD, chief of pediatric and adolescent dermatology, University of California, San Diego. “If your child’s dermatologist recommends bleach baths, be sure to ask how much bleach to add to the water and how often a bleach bath should be given. Adding the wrong amount or type of bleach to the bath can irritate your child’s already sensitive skin.”

Dr. Eichenfield shares these important steps for giving a bleach bath:

  1. Use regular strength — 6 percent — bleach for the bath. Do not use concentrated bleach.
  2. Measure the amount of bleach before adding it to the bath water. Use a measuring cup or measuring spoon to add the bleach to the bath. For a full bathtub of water, use a half cup of bleach. For a half-full tub of water, add a quarter cup of bleach. For a baby or toddler bathtub, add one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water. 
  3. While the tub is filling, pour the bleach into the water. Adding too much bleach to the bath can irritate your children’s skin. Adding too little bleach may not help.
  4. Never apply bleach directly to your child’s eczema. 
  5. Be sure to wait until the bath is fully drawn and bleach is poured before your child enters the tub. 
  6. Talk with your dermatologist about how long your child should soak in the tub. Most dermatologists recommend a five to 10 minute soak. 
  7. Pat your child’s skin dry after the bath. Use white towels if you are concerned about bleach stains.
  8. If your child uses eczema medication, apply it immediately after the bath. Then moisturize your child’s skin. 

“It’s very important for parents to talk with their board-certified dermatologist before beginning bleach bath therapy with their child,” said Dr. Eichenfield. “Bleach bath therapy can be a key component, along with overall good skin care, to gain control of your child’s eczema.”

These tips are demonstrated in “Eczema: Bleach Bath Therapy,” a video posted to the American Academy of Dermatology’s (Academy) website and the Academy’s YouTube channel. This video is part of the Dermatology A to Z: Video Series, which offers relatable videos that demonstrate tips people can use to properly care for their skin, hair and nails. A new video in the series posts to the Academy’s website and YouTube channel each month.

Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or www.aad.org. Follow the Academy on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology) or Twitter (@AADskin).

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