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4 infection fighters to avoid if your child has eczema

What to avoid

If your child has eczema, dermatologists recommend that you avoid the 4 infection fighters on the do-not-use list below.

Mother holding son

When a child has eczema, dermatologists often recommend that parents avoid the treatments on this do-not-use list.

Do-not-use list

  • Antibiotics applied to the skin

  • Antiseptics applied to the skin

  • Antibacterial soaps and body washes

  • Antibacterial bath additives, including antibacterial bath oils

While some children who have eczema get frequent skin infections, dermatologists have found that the above products:

  • Do not help clear a skin infection.

  • Do not reduce the risk of getting a skin infection.

  • Can worsen eczema.

  • Can irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.

Bleach bath therapy can help reduce skin infections

If your child gets frequent skin infections, your dermatologist may recommend a treatment that sounds downright scary. It is called bleach-bath therapy. To use it, you add a bit of bleach to your child’s bath.

Studies show that this treatment can be safe and effective for children with moderate to severe eczema.

If your child’s dermatologist recommends bleach bath therapy, you would add a small amount of bleach to your child's bath as follows:

Standard-sized bathtub (full)

When you fill the tub until the water reaches the overflow drain, as shown in this picture, you add:

  • 1/2 cup of regular (not concentrated) bleach
Running water reaches the overflow drain of bathtub

Standard-sized bathtub (1/2 full)

When you fill the tub halfway, you add:

  • 1/4 cup of regular (not concentrated) bleach
Close-up of running water pouring out of bathtub faucet

Baby (or toddler) bathtub

Fill the tub as you normally do, adding:

  • 1 teaspoon of regular (not concentrated) bleach for each gallon of water

Unsure how many gallons the tub holds? Check with your child’s dermatologist before adding bleach.

Filling toddler tub with handheld spray hose

Related AAD resources

Getty Images

Eichenfield, LF, Tom WL, et al. “Part 2: Guidelines of Care for the Management and Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis with Topical Therapies.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Jul;71(1):116-32.

Last updated: 3/11/21