Bleach baths effective for inflammatory conditions

November 26, 2013

A dilute bleach solution may be an effective way to treat certain inflammatory skin conditions, according to a new study.

A dilute bleach solution may be an effective way to treat certain inflammatory skin conditions, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif., examined the beneficial effects of a dilute bleach solution on mice. If shown to work similarly in humans, the treatment could revolutionize how patients are treated for skin damage due to radiation dermatitis, excess sun and aging.

According to the study, dilute bleach solutions have been used for decades to treat eczema. It was originally thought that the bleach provided an antimicrobial effect, but as researchers discovered, there was more to the therapy. The research team focused on a molecule called nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells, or NF-kB.

Study investigators tested the effect of a daily bath in a dilute bleach solution on lab mice with radiation dermatitis. Mice bathed in the solution tended to have less severe skin damage and healed more effectively than the control group.

“We have discovered a potential mechanism for why hypochlorite baths help patients with atopic dermatitis,” lead author Thomas Leung, M.D., Ph.D., tells Dermatology Times. “Hypochlorite blocks the activation of a central player in inflammation, nuclear factor-kappa B. These findings will need to be validated in human clinical trials.”

The Stanford team is examining other possible diseases that may be treated by dilute-bleach baths.

The study was published online Nov. 15 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.