Subjects: Patient care
Nearly one in 5 school-age children are afflicted with eczema, a monumentally annoying skin disorder characterized by red, itchy, patchy lesions that when scratched, mature into crusty, weeping sores which often become superinfected with staphylococcus aureus.
Once bacterial superinfection occurs, physicians typically prescribe oral or topical antibiotics with the downside being rapid development of resistance including that dreaded scourge, MRSA.
But now scientists at Northwestern are reporting that adding a small amount of household bleach to the bathwater of children with moderate to severe eczema markedly improves the condition.
Jennifer Huang, Amy Paller and colleagues prescribed oral antibiotics to 31 patients who were between the ages of 6 months and 17 years and were afflicted by eczema that had been complicated by staphylococcal superinfection.
Half the patients were also instructed to bathe in a standard tub into which a half a cup of bleach had been added. These patients also received intranasal antibiotic ointment to eliminate bacterial colonization of that orifice.
Controls added an inert substance that looked and smelled like bleach to their baths, and applied an ointment containing fake antibiotics into their noses.
All subjects were instructed to bathe twice a week for 5-10 minutes.
The scientists saw so much improvement in the treatment group, they halted the study early and switched kids in the control group over to the bleach.
“The eczema kept getting better and better with the bleach baths, and these baths prevented it from flaring again,” Paller told BurrillReport.
“We presume the bleach has antibacterial properties and decreased the number of bacteria on the skin, which is one of the drivers of flares,” added the Chariman of Pediatric Dermatology.
The write-up is in Pediatrics.