Indian Journal of Dermatology
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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 273-278

Use of bleach baths for atopic dermatitis: An Indian perspective

Department of Dermatology, Calcutta National Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
Abhishek De
Flat Number 3A Arcadia 1 Dream Park, Sonarpur Station Road, Kolkata - 700 103, West Bengal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijd.IJD_536_20

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Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic, relapsing inflammatory skin disorder affecting 15–20% of children and 1–10% of adults. Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) infection is the most frequent complication of AD and is involved in the worsening of the disease. Systemic and topical antibiotics are used in the treatment for AD but there are concerns over increasing resistance. Bleach (sodium hypochlorite, NaOCl) baths are an inexpensive, widely accessible, alternative antibiotic treatment that may not worsen antibiotic resistance. Bleach baths are used as adjunctive treatment in AD patients to treat superinfections, although their mechanism of action is not well understood. Balancing safety concerns with efficacious treatment should be important especially for AD where the majority of patients are in pediatrics age groups. Studies available in PubMed databases were included in this review. Most suggested bleach bath improves clinical symptoms of AD and restores surface microbiome by eradicating bacteria, most notably S. aureus. Some studies have noted that this antimicrobial effect has reduced the need for topical corticosteroids. In addition, bleach seems to have strong anti-inflammatory and antipruritic effects. Overall, bleach baths seem to be safe on human skin, without disrupting the epidermal barrier function. The review concluded, although there are some advantages of use of bleach baths, more studies to investigate long-term efficacy and safety of bleach baths are required before fixing its role in the treatment of AD especially in the context of the Indian scenario.

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