Photo by: Werner Suchomel (wsucht) via Pixabay
A new study found that regular water baths have no difference with bleach baths when it comes to reducing eczema symptoms.People with atopic dermatitis or eczema are usually advised by dermatologists to take bleach baths.These specialized baths are meant to reduce the symptoms and decrease the chance of bacterial infection.
However, the new study from the researchers of Northwestern University suggested otherwise.They found that bathing with regular water offers similar benefits, but without the burning and stinging of the skin caused by bleach baths.They also noted that bleach baths may even trigger asthma attacks.
"I don't know if it throws the baby out with the bathwater, but bleach baths lack the evidence to support how commonly they are being recommended.The water baths appear to be doing most of the heavy lifting.If bleach is adding any benefit, it's quite modest," said Dr.Jonathan Silverberg, the director of Multidisciplinary Eczema Center at Northwestern Medicine.
A bleach bath is composed of a small amount of bleach added with water to reduce the symptoms of eczema.It can also kill the bacteria on the skin that worsens the itchiness.The standard amount of household bleach for the bath is half a cup for every 40 gallons of water.Patients must soak the affected skin for 10 minutes and may rinse the bleach water if not well-tolerated by the skin.It should only be done no more than three times a week, with immediate application of moisturizer after every bath.
Silverberg and his colleagues encourage patients to take water baths regularly for eczema.Patients should not be afraid of skin dryness caused by water baths.Similar to bleach baths, patients must soak the affected area for 10 minutes without soap.The researchers stressed the harsh effects of soap on sensitive skin, so it is only an optional addition to water baths.As usual, apply a generous amount of moisturizer to prevent dryness.
The researchers also found that bleach baths bring several disadvantages such as the fact that it can be an additional expense for the patient, can stain fabric, can burn or sting the eyes, can open skin sores, and can induce asthma attacks.
"Patients with eczema have much higher rates of asthma than non-eczema patients.Everyone's home setting is going to be different, and many bathrooms don't have great ventilation, so a warm bath that causes the bleach to fume can be the perfect setup to potentially have an asthma flare-up," said Dr.Silverberg.
The fumes from the bleach bath and closed area of the bathroom can cause asthma attacks.Asthma flare-ups are severe onset effects of asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.The flare-up is caused by the inflammation of the lungs' airways, bronchial tubes, and bronchioles, resulting in a very limited amount of air getting in and out.Common triggers of asthma include cold air, exercise, smoking, animal dander, molds, dust mites, and cockroaches.
According to the Association of Occupational and Environment Clinics, bleach is an asthmagen, a substance that triggers asthma in people with or without asthma.Prolonged exposure to bleach can result in the development of asthma in healthy people.Children have been found to be most susceptible because their lungs are not yet fully developed.Spray bottles containing bleach release breathable small droplets of the chemical, creating an aerosol bleach that can trigger asthma.
The study findings showed the inconsistencies in studies about bleach baths, such as lack of accounting if patients immediately applied moisturizer or not after the bath.Dr.Silverberg claimed that their findings could become an insight to improve future studies about bleach baths.
How to Manage Atopic Dermatitis
The key to managing the symptoms of eczema is to lock in moisture in the skin and prevent dryness.If not, itchiness will occur and may lead to bacterial infection.
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1.The usual method to ensure moisture is to have a five-minute lukewarm bath with an application of moisturizer afterward.You can hydrate your skin by adding emulsifying oils of about one cap to a lukewarm bath.It is recommended to apply an emollient, such as petroleum jelly, while your body is still wet.The emollient enables your skin to absorb water.
2.Topical steroids are used to treat the lesions caused by eczema.Ointment with hydrocortisone, triamcinolone or betamethasone can be applied to the affected area.The application is usually discontinued after the lesions disappear.If new lesions or patches appear, reapplication of the ointment should be resumed.
3.Immunomodulators are medications that inhibit calcineurin, an enzyme found in T lymphocytes of the immune system.It is used to treat inflammatory diseases such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.However, the use of calcineurin inhibitors has been warned in 2006 in the United States.The warning was the increase of malignancy or presence of tumors associated with such drugs.The use of calcineurin inhibitors is recommended as a second line of therapy.
Probiotics have been considered as an optional therapy for eczema.According to the World Allergy Organization, pregnant and lactating women are recommended to take probiotics to prevent the development of eczema in their infants under breastfeeding.Several research studies also attributed the benefits of probiotics to help patients with AD.A study in 2009 and two studies in 2013, suggested that good bacteria can reduce the production of immunoglobulin E, antibodies responsible for allergic reactions.