Chronic, severe eczema can mar a childhood. The skin disorder starts with red, itchy, inflamed skin that often becomes crusty and raw from scratching. The itching is so bad kids may break the skin from scratching and get chronic skin infections.
The study found giving paediatric patients with moderate or severe eczema (atopic dermatitis) diluted bleach baths decreased signs of infection and improved the severity and extent of the eczema on their bodies. That translates into less scratching, fewer infections and a higher quality of life for these children.
The typical treatment of oral and topical antibiotics increases the risk of bacterial resistance, something doctors try to avoid, especially in children. Bleach kills the bacteria but does not have the risk of creating bacterial resistance.
"We have long struggled with staphylococcal infections in patients with eczema," Paller said. She noted more than two-thirds of eczema patients have evidence of staphylococcus on their skin, the bacteria that most commonly causes infection and worsens the eczema. "This study shows that simple household bleach, which we think decreases the staphylococcus on the skin, can help these children."
Patients on the bleach baths had a reduction in eczema severity that was five times greater than those treated with placebos over one to three months, said Amy S. Paller, the Walter J. Hamlin Professor and chair of dermatology.
In the study, Paller and researchers treated 31 paediatric patients (six months to 17 years old) who had eczema and a bacterial staph infection for 14 days with oral antibiotics. Half of the patients received bleach in their bath water (half a cup per full standard tub), while the other half received a look-alike placebo. Patients were also instructed to put a topical antibiotic ointment or placebo control into their nose (where the staphylococcus can also grow) for five sequential days of each month. All were instructed to bathe in the bleach twice a week, and soak for five to ten minutes for three months.
The research team saw such rapid improvement in the kids taking the real bleach baths that they terminated the study early because they wanted the children getting the placebo to get the same relief.
MEDICA.de; Source: Northwestern University