Are you suffering from the uncontrollable itch that eczema brings with it? Have no fear, there’s a soak for that here!
Vinegar Baths for Eczema
Taking a bath in vinegar, has recently begun to surface in publications and studies within the dermatology field. However, my patient’s have been experiencing results with these soaks for a while now. The key is, optimizing your skin’s pH levels. Your skin barrier should have a pH between 4.6 and 5.6, for best optimization. The trick is, balancing that with the pH in your tap water (this varies across the country)!
You will want to get the pH of your bathwater between 4.2 and 4.4. Invest in a pH meter, to ensure you are preparing eczema relief in your tub! These run around $20.00 on Amazon. When your eczema is flaring up, take a vinegar bath to alleviate symptoms.
Vinegar Bath Regimen
- Add about 4 cups to a half full bathtub of lukewarm water (do not use hot water).
- Check the pH for optimal 4.2-4.4 measurements for hyper-acidity (beneficial to skin’s barrier).
- Soak for 15-20 minutes.
- Do not rinse the vinegar from your skin, before getting out of the tub.
- Pat your skin dry (do not rub as this can irritate the skin).
- Apply ceramide moisturizer in a heavy cream or ointment form, 3-5 minutes after getting out the tub (lotions do not hold the same moisture locking capacity needed to be effective in moisturizing eczema).
I am a huge advocate for vinegar baths. While there are other effective soaks, these are the ones I would recommend as being most beneficial to patients’ with eczema.
Bleach Baths for Eczema
When I was a Fellow at the National Institutes of Health, I was one of the first dermatologists in the world to advocate the use of bleach baths. While I don’t find them as effective as the vinegar soaks, they have been proven to help with infection associated with eczema.
Proper Bleach Bath Measurements for Normal Sized Tubs
- For a 1/4 full tub, add 1/8 cup of bleach.
- For a 1/2 full tub, add 1/4 cup of bleach.
- For a 3/4 full tub, add 3/8 cup of bleach.
Bleach baths are approved by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Exercise caution with preparation.
Be Sure to Implement These Measures
- Always measure the bleach with precision in a measuring cup.
- Pour the bleach into the running, lukewarm water.
- Never pour bleach directly onto the skin.
- Close your eyes before dunking your head into the bath (optional for face/scalp eczema).
- Soak for no more than 15-20 minutes.
- Apply a moisturizer 3-5 minutes after you pat, skin dry. Utilize thick creams and ointments that contain ceramides and are 100% hypoallergenic.
Baking Soda Soak
This soak has been known to alleviate the itching symptom of eczema. However, if you have extremely sensitive skin, or are prone to allergies, I would not recommend this method of treatment.
Baking Soda Bath Protocol
- Fill tub with lukewarm water.
- Add 1/2 cup of baking soda in running water.
- Use a wooden spoon to help the baking soda dissolve.
- Soak for 15-20 minutes.
- Pat skin dry.
- Apply your ceramide cream or ointment, 3-5 minutes after you are out of the bath.
Many people have sworn by colloidal oatmeal soaks as being effective in treating their eczema itch. However, I shy away from that treatment. Recent studies have suggested to avoid using products with oatmeal in them. This is likely due to a gluten component and allergy prone skin. Stick to vinegar soaks when possible!
Dr. Cheryl Lee Eberting is a board certified dermatologist who has dedicated her career to research and treatment of skin ailments. She writes regularly at cherylleemd.com