The bad news is that there is no cure for eczema, possibly never will be. The good news is that there is a way to reduce your dependence on topical steroids. The treatment is called the diluted bleach bath.
The bleach bath was introduced to me by my family doctor. This treatment is by no means a cure but in about a month of treatment I noticed that I was using less topical steroids and that my flare-ups were less severe and frequent. This is really important because topical steroids have been shown in a few studies to decrease collagen synthesis, in humans. Collagen is responsible for keeping our maintaining skin elasticity to minimize wrinkles. One can only imagine the consequences of long-term usage.
How does the bleach bath work? The human skin is normally occupied by a flora of bacteria. However, skin taken from eczema patient’s show higher levels of bacteria (Staph) compared to individuals without eczema. The bacteria are believed to release toxins onto the skin which can further aggravate your eczema. Taking a bleach bath, which is basically chlorine, frequently will help to reduce bacterial levels in the skin.
1) Measure 1/2 a cup of ~ 6% bleach. This is for a bath tub that is almost 4/5 full. Also check the concentration of your bleach. It should be a percent value. You will need to adjust the volume of bleach you add based on this value.
2) If you are buying bleach make sure nothing additional is added to it. I made the mistake of almost purchasing Javex bleach with fibregard for clothes rather than normal bleach
3) If you touch the bleach, wash your hands right away or else your hand will burn for hours.
4) Never dump your bleach into the tub because it could splash back and hit your eye
5) Don’t inhale the fumes, but of course you know this
6) Soak in the bath for 10 to 20 minutes. Occasionally dip your face into the tub, eyes closed, if facial eczema is an issue.
7) Remember to rinse off the bleach with clean water when your done. If you leave the bleach on it will dry out your skin and irritate it. I had an itch attack because I had forgotten once
8) In some places on the internet, it says that you should not take a bleach bath for more than twice a week. My doctor recommended every second day, which I have been following and it seems to be working
How long does it take? Personally, it took about 2 weeks before I noticed that I was using less and less topical steroids. I also began to notice that my skin was better on days where I had taken a bleach bath in the morning. It has been 2 months since I have been taking a bleach bath and I’ve only had a severe flare-up twice. This is one of the most effective treatments for reducing redness next to topical steroids.
The reason I’m writing about this is because I felt that there was plenty of people on the internet saying that they have tried it on their kids but you don’t hear much about adults trying it. In addition, the study showing that the bleach bath was effective only used children in their sample.
Lastly, I encourage you try it because my family doctor said that it has worked really well for many of his patients. Please let me know how the bleach bath worked for you!