Bleach may be key in treating skin damage and aging, a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine found.
A diluted mixture of .005% bleach in water showed to reverse both the inflammation and aging of the skin in trials conducted on mice, giving researchers hope that this inexpensive household item may be the answer to addressing serious conditions in humans, including painful side-effects of cancer treatments.
Bleach dilutions have been effective in treating eczema, but doctors have never honed in on why, lead study author Thomas Leung said to The Huffington Post. His research in this study found that exposing skin to bleach blocked the expression of genes regulated by the NF-kB protein complex in cells, which play a critical role in inflammation.
The findings are especially promising for cancer patients suffering from radiation dermatitis, a painful, sunburn-like effect of radiation therapy that often necessitates long intermittencies between treatments.
“I think that if our human trials show the same changes in mice, everyone will adopt this,” Leung told HuffPost. “It could be really exciting. Economically, this is pennies per treatment and very widely available.”
When tested on older mice, the researchers found the bleach solution to be a sort of fountain of youth.
“We found that if we blocked NF-kB activity in elderly laboratory mice by bathing them in the bleach solution, the animals’ skin began to look younger,” Leung said. “It went from old and fragile to thicker, with increased cell proliferation.”
However, the anti-aging effects were short-term and diminished soon after stopping the bleach baths.
In human trials, the team will look into other applications of the dilute-bleach.
“It’s possible that, in addition to being beneficial to radiation dermatitis, it could also aid in healing wounds like diabetic ulcers,” Leung said. “This is exciting because there are so few side effects to dilute bleach … It could be easy, safe and inexpensive.”
While the bleach applications have shown to be safe, Leung cautions patients to only use the treatment under a doctor’s supervision.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to NF-kB protein complex as NF-kB cells.