There is no evidence that bleach baths are harmful to anyone unless an individual has an allergy to chlorine, lye or hydrogen peroxide. A therapeutic weekly or twice weekly bath with bleach will reduce the amount of bacteria found on the skin and may prevent or discourage skin infections. The treatment does have clinical applications for skin diseases like impetigo, atopic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.
Prevention of Impetigo
Impetigo is a bacterial infection caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that is found naturally on most people's skin. It is highly contagious and is a common complaint in school aged children. Most often impetigo occurs following a break in the skin from an insect bit or scratch that becomes infected. Bleach diluted in bath water is an effective treatment for impetigo but this therapy may also prevent the disease by killing bacteria on the skin before an infection can occur.
Treatment of Scabies
Scabies is an itchy rash which is usually present on the legs or arms. The rash is caused by a mite that burrows under the skin and reproduces. Treatment usually includes anti-fungal creams, but the mite is hardy and can be difficult to kill. There is evidence that bleach may break down the mite's hard shield and kill the eggs preventing reproduction. Twice weekly baths with bleach are recommended as part of the treatment for scabies infestation. Scabies is more common in children than adults, but can spread between children and parents.
Ringworm is a fungal infection often carried by family pets like dogs and cats. The infection can easily spread to humans, especially children who play with the animals and touch their own mouths and skin without washing their hands. One of the most efficacious treatments for the round raised rash caused by ringworm is the dilute bleach bath. In addition to its anti-bacterial properties, household bleach is an excellent anti-fungal and it will kill ringworm and other fungal infections of the skin.
Treatment for Warts
Warts are not caused by a bacteria or fungus, they are caused by a viral infection. Like bacteria, viruses are naturally present on most people's skin, especially their hands. Warts most often occur on hands and fingers and are most prevalent among adolescents aged 12 to 16. The chemicals present in household bleach kill viruses even when highly diluted with water. Therapeutic bleach baths may help eliminate existing warts and prevent the spread of the virus to new locations.
Benefits and Risks of Bleach Baths
The concentration of chemicals in a dilute bleach bath is considerably lower than the concentration in hot tub and pool water. There are no known risks for individuals who are not allergic to the chemicals contained in household bleach. Individuals with dry or sensitive skin may experience increased dryness following bleach treatments. The benefits of bleach therapy include the alleviation of symptoms from chronic diseases like eczema and psoriasis and the cure and prevention of viral, bacterial, parasitic and fungal skin infections.
Bleach baths provide treatment and relief for a wide variety of skin infections and rashes. If a rash is accompanied by a fever or other symptoms, it is crucial to consult a doctor for a diagnosis before attempting any treatment at home. The health advantages of bleach baths are primarily due to the ability of bleach to kill a wide variety of microbes and parasites commonly found on human skin.