Dilute Bleach Baths

Source: Seattle Children’s Hospital

Baths with a small amount of bleach in them can be helpful for your child’s atopic dermatitis. It helps get rid of germs that cause infections. Be careful when giving bleach baths. Bleach that is  not very watered down (diluted) is a dangerous household poison.

  • Never use undiluted bleach directly on the skin. – Avoid getting dilute bleach water in your child’s eyes or in your eyes.
  • Do not swallow dilute bleach water.
  • Throw away or drain any unused bleach or bleach water right after use.
  • Keep bleach bottle out of reach of children.
  • Adding bleach can make your bathtub slippery, so be extra careful to keep your child from falling.

How should I prepare a dilute bleach bath?

Give your child dilute bleach baths 2 to 3 times a week, or as often as your child’s doctor says you should. Follow these steps:

  1. Use common unscented household liquid bleach (like Clorox). Look at the bottle to check the concentration of bleach. On the bottle, “bleach” might be called “sodium hypochlorite.” These mean the same thing. The concentration should be about 6 to 8.75%.
  2. Fill up the tub with lukewarm water. There are about 40 gallons in a normal bathtub. A half-full tub is about 20 gallons.
  3. Pour 1 to 4 tablespoons (1Tbs = 15mL) of bleach into the bath water for a normal full bathtub. If you have a smaller tub or if you do not fill the tub all the way, use 1 to 2 teaspoons (1tsp = 5 mL) of bleach for each gallon of water. You can use a gallon milk jug to measure your bathtub. Ask your child’s healthcare provider how much to use at first.
  4. Completely mix the added bleach in the water with a spatula, a spoon, or with your hand.
  5. Have your child soak in the chlorinated water for about 10 minutes. For smaller children, use a cloth or sponge to soak the dry, scaly parts of the body with the dilute bleach bathwater.
  6. At the end of the bleach bath, rinse your child’s skin very well with fresh, clean, lukewarm water.
  7. Gently pat your child’s skin dry.
  8. Put medicine or moisturizer (or both) on your child’s skin.
  9. Repeat bleach baths 2 to 3 times a week or as prescribed by your child’s healthcare provider.

Alternatives to Bleach Baths

There are manufactured preparations that are similar to bleach baths and can be used as an alternative to soap that help with atopic dermatitis. These examples include:

  • Hibiclens [OTC]
  • CLn BodyWash
  • Any skin cleansers containing Chlorhexidine
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