Hydrogen Peroxide Bath for Healing Skin InfectionsUpdated: July 16, 2018 Natural Remedies, Skin Health
In her later years, Grandma was sadly unable to stand in front of the stove or counter to do much cooking or baking. This was due to an unfortunate predisposition to leg ulcers which caused her great discomfort and a loss of mobility.
These ulcers seemed to be perpetually sore and infected which required bandaging and re-bandaging on an almost daily basis. In fact, I don’t think I ever saw Grandma without at least one large bandage on her lower legs. How I wished as a little girl that there was something I could do to ease her discomfort as no creams, salves or other ointments on the market at that time seemed to do much good.
One natural remedy that very well could have helped my Grandma’s leg ulcers tremendously is the hydrogen peroxide bath. The wonders of this healing, antiseptic regimen (not to be confused with bleach baths used for eczema treatment) was not well known at the time, however.
What is Hydrogen Peroxide?
In a nutshell, hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound that is a colorless liquid with the chemical abbreviation of H2O2. Most people know that the chemical abbreviation for water is H2O, which means two atoms of hydrogen joined to one atom of oxygen. It is easy then, to (incorrectly) assume that hydrogen peroxide is just water with an extra atom of oxygen. However, while the chemical names of the two substances are similar, water and hydrogen peroxide are in reality very, very different!
The peroxide bond in hydrogen peroxide is represented by the two atoms of oxygen (O2). This bond is extremely volatile unlike the single oxygen atom in a molecule of water (H2O) which is very stable.
Most people don’t know that pure hydrogen peroxide will explode if heated to boiling. In addition, it causes serious contact burns to the skin and can set certain materials on fire with contact.
As a result, hydrogen peroxide can only be purchased by consumers as a dilute solution. For household use, the 3% hydrogen peroxide from the drugstore in a brown bottle works very well for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. I use this dilution strength along with white vinegar in a sinkful of water to clean pesticide residue off conventional produce when organic is unavailable. This video shows how to do this.
Using H2O2 as a Natural Remedy
The very mild, dilute H2O2 solution can also be used as a very safe sanitizer for the body. This article talks about the toothpaste recipe recommended by my holistic dentist for reversing periodontal disease that uses baking soda mixed with 3% hydrogen peroxide.
I also use a few drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide eyedroppered into my children’s ears after they go swimming in a pool or lake. They giggle and enjoy the bubbly sensation as the hydrogen peroxide oxidizes inside their ear canals, which is how its disinfection magic works. Colloidal silver works well for this purpose too.
Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide is Much Stronger!
In addition to the very dilute 3% hydrogen peroxide in the brown bottle, there is a food grade hydrogen peroxide on the market that is helpful for use in detoxification bathing. Food grade hydrogen peroxide (35% dilution strength) is about eleven times stronger than drug store H2O2 (3% dilution strength), so you must handle with care! Food grade hydrogen peroxide is not readily available in stores either, so you usually must special order or have it shipped to you online (source).
Please note that food grade hydrogen peroxide has gotten a bad rap in recent years as a natural remedy, primarily because of claims of its use for oxygenation therapy both internally and externally to treat everything from low energy to cancer. These questionable uses of H2O2 are not in any way suggested or recommended by this article.
Instead, food grade hydrogen peroxide can be added to warm bath water as a safe and effective way to help disinfect and heal skin infections of all kinds from the neck down.
The Hydrogen Peroxide Bath for Disinfection and Healing
Using food grade hydrogen peroxide as a detoxification bath for healing and disinfection is recommended by Dr. Lawrence Wilson MD. In his practice, he has utilized peroxide baths with great success to eliminate infections of all kinds from the lower half of the body even including STDs. If you are considering using a peroxide bath for a yeast infection, however, note that an apple cider vinegar bath also works very well and possibly better for some people.
Dr. Wilson writes that a dozen or more peroxide baths may be needed over a period of a month or more to achieve desired and lasting results. However, he recommends that no more than 2 or 3 times weekly and never more than one in a single day should be attempted as this can be too much of a good thing and backfire with symptoms of fatigue, brain fog and lethargy in general.
As an aside, my holistic dentist recommends a combination of H2O2 and baking soda to disinfect the mouth and gums, prevent gum disease and resolve periodontitis. He says it is one of the best ways to ensure you have all your teeth into old age.
Peroxide Bath Procedure
To commence a hydrogen peroxide cleansing bath, add one to at most two cups of 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide to a tubful of water that is hot but tolerably so. The bath does not need to be completely filled if the skin infections are on the legs or lower torso only, for example.
Another alternative is to use hydrogen peroxide from the pharmacy in the brown bottle, but since this is more diluted you will have to use more. For example, the hydrogen peroxide I have available at my local drug store is diluted to 3%, so I would need to use about 11 times as much to equal the one to two cups of food grade hydrogen peroxide needed for an effective H2O2 bath. A large bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide contains 32 ounces (4 cups or 1 quart), so this means you would need two large bottles plus another 3/4 of a third bottle (11 cups) of the drugstore 3% H2O2 to equal 1 cup of the food grade hydrogen peroxide necessary for a cleansing bath.
Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide More Cost Effective
Needless to say, it is far more budget friendly to go ahead and get a gallon of the food grade hydrogen peroxide rather than use multiple bottles of the diluted drugstore kind. For example, using the 3% H202, the cost would be about $8-10/bath. Using the food grade hydrogen peroxide, the cost of one bath would be $3 or so. I hope this explanation isn’t too confusing!
Once you have the bath ready to go, relax in the tub for at least 40 minutes and up to one hour to give sufficient time for thorough disinfection of whatever skin infections you are attempting to heal.
When your peroxide bath is complete, get out of the bath and dry off. Do not rinse first.
The goal is to use as close to 2 cups of the 35% hydrogen peroxide as you can without experiencing any burning sensation which is not beneficial or helpful to the healing process. A peroxide bath should be relaxing and enjoyable with no discomfort. If you have sensitive skin, it is best to start with 1 cup and see how you do. If you can tolerate a bit more, do so.
If after getting into the bath, you experience any sort of mild itching or burning sensation, quickly add more warm-hot water to the tub to further dilute the peroxide.
Dr. Wilson says that after a few months to at most a year, the majority of people will no longer require hydrogen peroxide baths for maintenance to keep infections at bay.
Peroxide Bath Cautions
As mentioned above, using more peroxide is not better. One to at most two cups per tubful should be used. If you find that any itching or burning in the peroxide bath occurs, use less, although use up to 2 cups max per bath if you can tolerate it comfortably.
Food grade hydrogen peroxide coming into direct contact with the skin is burning. It will also bleach or burn through fabric quickly. Be extremely careful as you are pouring it into the bath and replace the cap immediately when you are finished dispensing the desired amount so it doesn’t accidentally spill. Because of its corrosivity, it is best to use a glass measuring cup instead of a plastic one.
Like an epsom salt bath, a hydrogen peroxide bath makes most people sleepy, so best to do it before a nap or at bedtime.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
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The Healthy Home Economist holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mother to 3 healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, ABC, NBC, and many others.