Parents are giving their babies 'bleach baths' for eczema
Not to be tried at home without medical consultation.
If there were ever two words to make your blood turn cold upon hearing them in the same sentence together, it would be 'baby' and 'bleach'.
But it turns out many parents are giving their babies 'bleach baths' in order to treat eczema.
In a post on the Instagram account @tinyheartseducation, which is run by Australian sisters (and mothers) Nikki and Rach, Nikki shared how her baby boy suffers from eczema flare-ups that leave his skin dry, red and itchy.
Though she found a treatment that worked for him, she was previously recommended to give him a bleach bath. Though she has yet to try it herself, she got her paediatric nurse to weigh in.
"As a mama, I know your little one and 'bleach bath' in the same sentence probably sounds real counterintuitive," the nurse said. "Believe it or not though bleach baths are a common and very effective treatment for eczema. Hear me out guys...
"Done safely, the use of a measured amount of diluted bleach added to a lukewarm bath is common practice in our paeds wards across the country. This is because bleach helps kill the bacteria that causes eczema to become infected and reduces the severity of the condition.
"It's helpful to note that the final bleach concentration is much lower than what you'll find in your average swimming pool."
The nurse went on to say that bleach baths should only be tried in consultation with your GP regarding your child's eczema, and should be measured according to hospital guidelines. "The Royal Children's Hospital guidelines advise 12ml of liquid bleach for every 10L of bath water," she advised.
She also said the bleach to be diluted should be straight 4.2% sodium hypochlorite, with no fragrances like lemon or lavender.
"Don't rinse off your little one after the bath – unless unlikely stinging or irritation occurs," she added. "Repeat the baths as often as your little one's doc or nurse recommends. You can add your usual bath oil to the same bath."
Many of the comments praised the breakdown of the process, with some parents testifying that bleach baths had helped with their baby's skin issues.
"This [100 emoji] works. And for us it stayed away for a year and now just small flare ups," wrote one commenter. "Our GP explained that it helps remove Bacteria from the skin that irritates the eczema. It’s no different to a swimming pool really if that helps you get your head around it!"
"Bleach baths definitely helped our little one in the first year. We’d tried multiple creams and ointments, but the baths were the only thing to reduce the flair ups!" said another.
"My son had horrible infected eczema when he was a baby," another person wrote. "After advice from the hospital and MCHN, we did bleach baths, wet dressings, steroid ointments – it helped so much. Now he just has the odd breakout."
If you're considering a bleach bath to help with your baby's eczema, speak to your GP or paediatric nurse first.