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Bleach baths and other cheap eczema remedies

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Eczema sufferers are easy marks. When you are itching to crawl out of your skin a $100 bottle of snake oil seems like a bargain! Marketers promote exotic and expensive ingredients on the basis of the barest threads of scientific evidence. Creams containing extracts from the peel of the jabara fruit, for example, are touted because they grow only in regions where most people have no allergies (see New York Times article) -- yet even serious research on the subject of psoriasis can be confusing and contradictory. Lanolin, for example, is the main ingredient for many creams doctors recommend to relieve the itchy dry skin typical of eczema, yet often dermatologists warn against using it because some people are allergic.
I am as vulnerable to marketing as anyone else, and in my search for the perfect recipes I bought many useless expensive oils and ingredients just because the word "dermatitis" was printed nearby. My husband is the chronic psoriasis sufferer in the household, but despite his cracked hands and angry red itchy skin he's a very tough customer. The cream has to feel just right, it can't smell funny, and he doesn't like green hairy stuff to start growing in the jar after a few weeks. He was very suspicious of my homemade attempts to replace his familiar, dermatologist sanctioned products, even though the Cetaphil he used does not score very well on the safety scale set up by the Environmental Working Group Cosmetic Safety Database... but when he ran out of my home-made cream and had to resort to commercial products during a trip, he finally had to concede that even the worst of my experiments were far superior to anything he could buy... and much, MUCH cheaper.

This instructable was adapted from a book I'm working on, Make Anything, a Handbook for Saving Money, Living Green and Having Fun with Trash. If you like it, sign up to be on my mailing list. You won't be getting spam (I set this up a few months ago and have yet to send out a single newsletter....) but you will get a chance to win a free pop-up card template....

 
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sunshiine1 year ago
I love your pictures and this instructable! Thanks for sharing!
sunshiine
abath2 years ago
For those suffering from MRSA or eczema, there are very effective and natural alternatives to bleach bathing available. A garlic extract, called Allicin, is a natural antimicrobial and it kills methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and all forms of staph, 100%. Staphylococcus aureus bacterium is found in 95 per cent of simple eczema cases. Protect yourself. http://www.garlicbath.com
belsey (author)  abath2 years ago
I checked out your website: I'm sorry to say that I have to disagree with the "toxic regardless of concentration" claim -- because in fact the dose or concentration of ANY given chemical is how toxicity is defined. "Toxic at any dose" cannot be true, it's an oxymoron. A chemical (like table salt, for example) is toxic at a certain dose, but still a necessity of life at a lower dose. I love garlic, but I'm sure if I ate two pounds of it in one sitting I'd get really sick (in addition to being really smelly...). At a high enough dose the chemical you use, allicin, is toxic too.
Your website claim that a bleach bath such as this one would destroy all skin bacteria, though I'm not sure if it is true, has a little more merit -- but the thing is if you want to destroy the staph then you probably can't avoid a little collateral damage. If the expensive garlic bath product you're selling is in fact destroying staph then chances are it's also killing beneficial bacteria too. I'm not saying your product doesn't work! Maybe it does, and for some people, maybe it's worth the high cost... I'm just saying that the bleach bath has been proven to be effective and it is dirt cheap.
MsJan2 years ago
I use baking soda for many cleaning projects. I buy white vinegar and cider vinegar by the gallons since I use them also for my cleaning and of course cooking. I NEVER use perfumes or essential oils since they can be very toxic to humans. We need to stay away from these things. Remember: "A Healthy Home Has No Smell". Open your windows and do not add fragrances to your home to mask odors.
xmedic2 years ago
Petroleum jelly (white petrolatum) is the only thing that works for my eczema. I start every day after my shower looking like Burt Reynolds in "Striptease". (Well, except for the part about looking like Burt Reynolds :-) )

I've aklso found that the cheaper petroleum jelly from our local 99 Cents Only store seems to work better than the more expensive stuff from regular stores. It does seem to "soak in" more because it's a little bit more "liquid", if that makes sense.

Thanks for the ideas! I will try some of them.
MsJan xmedic2 years ago
I have read that petroleum is very toxic to humans. So do not put it on your body. Guess it can cause cancer or other illnesses. Maybe that is why it is so cheap. I have not found to much safe at the Dollar Store. They sell so much cheap stuff but much of it is toxic to humans. Never buy anything metal from there since it can cause cancer. Wish the other states would make the products state that it causes cancer like California does.
misformiche4 years ago
i didnt read through all the comments... but just plain unrefinded coconut oil has worked for me.
me to for my eczema, but the psoriasis is more stubborn. it improves but doesn't go away.
belsey (author)  KittyF3 years ago
Yes, that's the sad and depressing part. It always comes back. You can keep it at bay, and keep it from becoming horrible, but at this point in medical history it can't be cured....
shifafa4 years ago
Eczema sufferer here. Thanks so much for sharing your research and trial/error with your husband. It is a complete surprise to me that most eczema patients have staph on their skin! What a revelation.

My eczema is mostly on my face, which makes me extra motivated to find a solution other than the Elidel I can't really afford. (Too bad I can't try the bleach bath -- at least not around my eyes and mouth.) Currently I'm having mixed results from oat flour paste applied as a mask. Any experience with oats or oatmeal?
KittyF shifafa3 years ago
I just sat and did the math because i also have eczema and psoriasis on my face.

The bleach bath breaks down to one cc to 40 oz of water. comes to about a large drop of bleach to 40 oz of water. not very strong.

sounds like it would be less than the amount that our water company uses in the spring and fall to deal with run off.
belsey (author)  shifafa4 years ago
 I don't have much personal experience with oatmeal, but I do know that it comes highly recommended for soothing itchy skin... It won't cure anything, but it should help temporarily. One thing you can try is to wipe your face with a (very) dilute solution on bleach on a cotton ball. You won't get the soaking hydration effect, but it might help. Good luck!
KittyF3 years ago
or avoid common allergens to determine if any of them are contributing to your eczema.
Mine is at least 50% related to a dairy allergy.

My sister's is related to celiac, Gluten allergy.
dakellymon4 years ago
I thought I would pipe in again. On the advice of a Asian psychiatrist named Moon Ja Kim, I started taking vitamine D3, one in the morning one at night, 2000 IU, I also take fish oil but not as regular. After 7+ years of out of control hand/foot eczema, my hands and feet are vastly improved. It is not completely gone, but i see a 90% improvement after a couple of weeks. If you suffer with eczema I highly recommend trying vitamine D3, I have not done a scientific study, I can't prove that it was the vitamine D that cured it. All I know is I started a few week ago and it looks like the eczema may be going away and I'm a happy man.
My grandaughter suffers from eczema, and it seems to always to be behind a joint, either her elbows or behind her knees, we have found after trying dozens of different creams and so on that what really works is cling film the clear plastic film used for cooking wrapped around the affected area,after putting Fucibet cream on the the area first,we do this before she goes to bed and the next morning like magic there is hardly a trace of it.
This may not work for everyone, but if like her she scratches until she bleeds then its worth a try.I HOPE THIS MAY HELP SOMEONE
msw100@yahoo.co.uk
belsey (author)  msw1004 years ago
Thanks for sharing your tip!
archerj4 years ago
Thanks a bunch!
 So do you actually have excema?..I notice you say your husband has psorasis yet you are using him as a test subject for excema?
belsey (author)  artist without a medium4 years ago
Sorry, I use all those terms interchangeably although technically I know there are differences -- I believe what my husband has been diagnosed for is "atopic dermatitis" but eczema is much easier to say and write, especially since I finally figured out how to spell it! In common speech the term "eczema" is often used to describe a bunch of different skin problems linked by dry itchy symptoms. My skin is fine though, beside the fact that it is fair and tends to burn...
remo5144 years ago
Just remember when you kill all the bacteria off your skin you open the door for the bad bacteria. some bacteria on the skin actually protects you from bad stuff like staff infection and the MSR bacteria. I really think you should try acupuncture I know it sounds crazy but a good acupuncturists can balance out your body and may fix your problem.
belsey (author)  remo5144 years ago
 No, that doesn't sound crazy at all -- eczema is not a problem which has a single solution. I have just never tried acupuncture (or known someone who did), so I didn't feel like I could write about it. And yes, as a rule I try to avoid anti-bacterial soap for the reasons you give, but the studies I read about did seem to show a real benefit in the bleach bath treatment. Of course if you're part of that 10% who DON'T have the bacteria the treatment won't help much, other than just to moisturize... Could my reply be any more wishy washy?
Ninzerbean4 years ago
I commend you for being so proactive in helping your husband. Thank you for sharing.
belsey (author)  Ninzerbean4 years ago
 Thanks! Next time he complains about one of my many housecleaning failings I'll show him your comment!
rimar20004 years ago
Your work is very commendable. I wish you success with your book, and can help many people. It's sad how most big companies profit at the expense of human suffering. I suffered from cold sores for many years, and spent money on absolutely useless remedies.
belsey (author)  rimar20004 years ago
 Thanks!
Truehart4 years ago

Is it ok to take a regular shower after the bleach bath?  Example:  I take my showers at night, helps me relax, so, I was thinking I'd do the bleach soak before my shower, take my shower, and then moisturize.

belsey (author)  Truehart4 years ago
 It should be just fine, so long as you don't take a hot shower which makes all the water in your skin evaporate. The bacteria should be killed off already so there's no harm in rinsing. You should know, however, that the bleach bath doesn't feel any different from a regular one. It's not like the pool water, where you can smell the chlorine forever. The concentration of bleach is so low you can't smell or feel it.