Eczema sufferers are easy victims of marketing. Creams with exotic, unproved ingredients are sold, sometimes at prices approaching $100 per ounce to desperate saps itching to crawl out of their skin. Ingredients like extracts from the peel of the jabara fruit are touted because they grow only in regions where most people have no allergies (see New York Times article) — yet even serious research on the subject can be confusing and contradictory.
The bleach bath seems to fly in the face of everything dermatologists always say about eczema: avoid all contact with water, nothing harsh on the skin… but with further consideration it does make sense. Bleach is very harsh at full concentration but here (about 0.08%) all it does is kill the staphylococcus aureus bacteria (pictured here) which 90% of eczema sufferers have on their skin. And although evaporation after a bath does tend to dry out the skin, if the water is lukewarm, rather than hot, that effect is minimized. This water not only controls the bacteria it hydrates the skin so long as the moisture gets locked in by applying cream immediately after the bath. As an added bonus any cream applied will be absorbed much more efficiently.
Here’s how you do it:
- 40 gallons of lukewarm water (full bathtub)
- 1/2 cup bleach
Pour bleach into tub as it is running to ensure that it is well dispersed. Fill the tub to the brim with warm (not hot) water.
For a severe eczema outbreak take 20 minute lukewarm baths, twice a day for a week, trying to be as fully immersed as possible. Moisturize skin immediately after soaking.
This treatment is safe for children.
I expanded this article into an instructable about more cheap eczema remedies.