Finding Eczema Relief: Bleach Bath Alternatives

bragg apple cider vinegar for eczema relief

For years dermatologists have been recommending bleach baths to anyone suffering from eczema. It’s no wonder why when you read studies like this one where patients saw a clear reduction in bacterial infection after bathing in bleach. But bleach is a chemical and is clearly anything but natural and non-toxic. Thankfully, there are safe alternatives for eczema relief in the bath. 

Apple Cider Vinegar
bragg apple cider vinegar for eczema relief

Dr. Peter Lio of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Center recommends bathing in apple cider vinegar. “For the apple cider vinegar baths, I like to start with 1 cup in the tub… but you can go up to even 4-5 cups per tub if it is not bothersome or irritating–this varies from patient to patient. I do like patients to rinse it off at the end so they don’t smell like salad and to minimize irritation. I recommend soaking for about 10 minutes then rinse, and do it nightly when flaring up (or even twice daily!) and then go down to 1-2 times per week.”

Essential Oils

Several essential oils have been found to be effective against MRSA and various forms of staph infections. Try adding some of these to your bath with or without the vinegar.

    • Tea tree and geranium when used together were the most powerful herbal combination for battling Oxford S. aureus NCTC 6571 (Oxford strain) in this study.
    • Direct contact with Lavender oil inhibited growth of both MSSA and MRSA in this study.
    • Thyme and Eucalyptus also displayed antibacterial effects in this study.

Before applying essential oils on children under five, it’s always best to consult a natural practitioner, Aromatherapist, or an essential oil safety book such as Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals by R. Tisserand and T. Balacs.

13 Comments

  1. DrB on January 1, 2014 at 4:42 am

    Thank you Jennifer. Start the year with skin friendly bath! Happy New Year to It’s an Itchy Little World from AtopicSkinDisease.com

    • Jennifer on January 6, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Thanks Dr. B! Same to you!

  2. Camilleta on January 2, 2014 at 2:34 am

    I will definitely have to try these! I’ve always been recommended bleach baths but I just can’t bring myself to bathe in any amount of bleach.

    • Jennifer on January 6, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Yes! Let us know how it goes!

  3. Ruth on January 6, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    When we tried this with our baby, she screamed and wouldn’t go into the tub because of the stinging. Something about the vinegar stings more than when we used a little bit of bleach. Have you had the same problem in the past? Any idea if using just a capful of apple vinegar in a baby tub is as effective as going full strength (1 cup, as suggested)?

    • Jennifer on January 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      Hi Ruth – I suppose any little amount is better than nothing. Perhaps you could try another anti-fungal or anti-bacterial – tea tree oil. Just a few drops could be helpful.

  4. Lisa Higginbotham on January 8, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Our traditional medicine allergist never recommended bleach baths to us (thank goodness!). This may explain why my daughters eczema cleared up over the summer when we swam in a chlorine pool several times a week!!

    • Jennifer on January 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      It’s certainly possible! Try some apple cider and see if it helps just as much. Good luck!

    • ckbridgett on January 13, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Hi Lisa
      Yep: we recommend swimming – the pool water cleans the skin!
      But do remember the use of moisturiser before and after. See
      https://www.atopicskindisease.com/articles/Swim

  5. Angela on January 18, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I tried this with a cup of vinegar and my son was very itchy afterwards. Is this common when starting out. Should I keep trying?

    • Jennifer on January 21, 2014 at 10:57 am

      Hi Angela – I think it’s probably best to stop the bathes if they make him itchy. Another think you could try would be baking soda added to the bath or something like this Oatmeal Cookie Bath Soak.

  6. Arista on February 11, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    I have just stumbled upon your site and plan to read all of your entries. My daughter has struggled with eczema since she was 1. It cleared up around age 4, completely. It has now returned, with a vengeance, at age 7. She has had 2 staph infections as a result and I have used a bath product called Garlic Bath. She soaks for 30 minutes in the bath with this allicin based product, and it is miraculous the healing that takes place. We have also used it when I feel that there are too many open wounds, and I fear the potential for staph. We have never done bleach baths, but I highly recommend the garlic bath company. Now if only I could find a topical product that consistently works….

    • Jennifer on February 14, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Hi Arista – Very interested, the product looks new. I’ll go check it out. Thanks so much for letting us know about it! Jennifer

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