Tip of the Week: Dilute bleach for superficial infections

In an era without easy access to antibiotics, saving your precious penicillin for a serious pneumonia would be wise.

So what do you do if you have a (mild) case of impetigo, or perhaps a yeast rash in a skin fold, or yet another round of athlete’s foot?

One simple answer is a dilute bleach solution.  When I was a kid, my mom would pour a cup of bleach into our swimming pool – this is the same idea.

A 1/1,000 dilution of standard chlorine bleach in water can be used for mild skin infections that are no more than skin-deep.  Washing the affected area with such a solution twice daily for a few days may eliminate the need for oral antibiotics.

The dilute bleach solution should not be used on open wounds other than superficial abrasions, and should be used with caution around the eyes (though this dilution is actually safe for bathwater, even for children).

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About Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

CYNTHIA J KOELKER , MD is a board-certified family physician with over twenty years of clinical experience. A member of American Mensa, Dr. Koelker holds degrees in biology, humanities, medicine, and music from M.I.T., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the University of Akron. She served in the National Health Service Corps to finance her medical education.
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2 Responses to Tip of the Week: Dilute bleach for superficial infections

  1. Ronnie B says:

    Is a Dakin’s sloution close to what you are describing? Also could the use of pine oil be used in the same matter? This oil would be like ”Astyptodyne”. What about tea tree oils?

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