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Bleach baths have been reported to reduce the severity of atopic dermatitis, eczema, skin infections and to reduce the need for topical steroids and antibiotics. Theory that eczema skin is prone to suffer from chronic Staphylococcal infections.

De-colonisation of the skin from chronic infections generally improves quality of the skin.

How can skin be decolonised?

Attempts to reduce S aureus by decolonisation of the skin include combinations of:

What is a bleach bath?

Bleach baths are dilutions of household bleach with water in a bath. The concentration of chlorine is similar to that of a swimming pool. It has antimicrobial action.

  • The active compound in commercial household bleaches is sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl).
  • Bleach contains 3–6% available chlorine (Cl2), approximately 0.5–1.5% sodium hydroxide (NaOH) as a stabiliser, small quantities of surfactants, and perfume.
  • At pH 11–13, it is an alkaline aqueous solution with major oxidising properties.
  • Sodium hypochlorite 0.0006% is also available as a convenient cleanser suitable to use in a shower.

Why use a bleach bath?

In conjunction with other methods of decolonisation, bleach baths reduce rates of recurrent primary and secondary skin and soft tissue infections.

Bleach baths have a broad spectrum of action against:

  • Bacteria (Gram positive and Gram negative)
  • Fungi and spores
  • Viruses

No microbial resistance has been reported to sodium hypochlorite. The effect of bleach baths on decolonising the patient’s skin is only temporary, so must be repeated regularly.

Bleach baths also seem to reduce inflammation and itching in eczema.

How to use a bleach bath

Mix 2 ml of 2.2% household bleach for every 1 litre of water to make a 0.005% solution. Brands vary strength so check the label. If the concentration is higher, use less bleach and if the concentration is lower, use more bleach.