While people spend billions on anti-aging creams, a new study reveals a surprising secret weapon: heavily diluted bleach. But don't try this at home.
According to new research from Stanford University, a .0005 percent solution -- much weaker than what is available on your grocery store shelves -- could be effective in treating skin damage caused by excessive sun exposure, aging, and radiation therapy.
In a trial on mice, a diluted bleach mixture reversed inflammation and aging of the skin, and low doses of bleach blocked a chemical that triggers the inflammatory response.
"Originally it was thought that bleach may serve an antimicrobial function, killing bacteria and viruses on the skin," said Dr. Thomas Leung from Stanford University. "But the concentrations used in clinic are not high enough for this to be the sole reason. So we wondered if there could be something else going on."
Leung and his colleagues tested the effect of daily, 30-minute baths in bleach solution on laboratory mice with radiation dermatitis. They found that the animals bathed in the bleach solution experienced less severe skin damage and better healing and hair regrowth than animals bathed in water.
The study was published on Friday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The team is now considering testing the formula on humans and looking into what other skin conditions it could be used to help treat. "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. We may have identified other ways to use hypochlorite to really help patients. It could be easy, safe and inexpensive."
Still, researchers are warning people to not try applying bleach to their skin at home.
Dr. Graham Johnston of the British Association of Dermatologists told the BBC: "I cannot emphasize enough that it is very important that individuals with inflammatory conditions do not apply bleach directly to their skin.
"We often see patients with severe reactions to even milk bleaches, and I would recommend that people with inflamed or broken skin avoid contact with bleach in those areas."
© AFP/Relaxnews 2014