Medical News Today: What to do if bleach gets on the skin

Bleach is a common household product that many people use for cleaning and disinfecting. It can kill most types of viruses, bacteria, molds, mildew, and algae. Bleach also whitens or lightens the color of certain materials.

Household bleach tends to contain 3–8% sodium hypochlorite. It is not usually toxic to the skin itself, but it can irritate the skin, eyes, and other parts of the body. It can be more harmful if mixed with other household chemicals, such as toilet cleaner, or if someone inhales it.

This article looks at what to do if bleach comes into direct contact with the skin or eyes. It will also discuss when to see a doctor and provide tips on how to use bleach safely.

Effects on the skin and other body areas

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If a person gets bleach on their skin, they can try washing the area with mild soap and water.

Household bleach is corrosive but not usually dangerous if a person uses it according to the label.

The effects of exposure to bleach will vary depending on the part of the body it affects, the concentration of the bleach, the duration of the exposure, and the amount.

Exposure to bleach can affect these body areas in the following ways:

  • Eyes: Exposure to bleach can make the eyes look red and feel irritated. The affected eye may tear up, and the person may experience blurry vision.
  • Mouth and throat: The mouth and throat may feel irritated, but the bleach will not usually cause any severe damage.
  • Skin: The skin may be irritated and look red.
  • Stomach and gastrointestinal (GI) tract: It is unusual for bleach to damage the stomach or GI tract because they are very resilient to such substances.
  • Lungs: Breathing in bleach fumes can irritate the lungs. For example, a person may experience bronchospasm. Bronchospasm causes the chest to feel tight and makes it hard for the person to catch their breath.

Exposure to bleach can be dangerous or even fatal if it mixes with other household chemicals. Bleach manufactured in countries outside of the United States may be even more dangerous due to the increased concentration.

For example, when combined with ammonia, bleach will create a toxic gas called chloramine. People can inhale the gas or absorb it through the skin. High levels of exposure to chloramine gas can be fatal.

Exposure to chloramine gas can cause many symptoms, including:

What to do for bleach exposure

In most cases, diluting the bleach with water will be enough to ease the skin irritation it causes. However, if someone gets bleach in their eyes or lungs, they should seek immediate medical attention. If a person ingests bleach, they should call Poison Control on 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

First aid advice for bleach exposure, depending on the area of the body it affects, is as follows:

  • Eyes: Flush the eyes with tap water. Then, see a doctor immediately.
  • Skin: Wash the exposed skin with mild soap and water.
  • Mouth or throat: If a person has swallowed a lot of bleach or an unknown amount, they should call Poison Control. They should also drink plenty of water. Drinking milk may ease the irritation. However, people should never force themselves to vomit, as it will cause more damage.
  • Lungs: Anyone who has inhaled bleach and is having trouble breathing should see a doctor, especially if they have asthma.

When to see a doctor

Anyone who gets bleach in their eyes should, after flushing the area with tap water, seek medical attention straight away.

People with asthma who inhale bleach should speak to a doctor straight away, especially if they start to experience any breathing difficulties.

Getting bleach on the skin is not usually dangerous when it is only for a short duration. However, it is important to speak to a doctor if the irritation does not pass within a few days or becomes severe.

When someone mixes bleach with other household chemicals, especially those that contain ammonia or acid, exposure can be very harmful. If someone has exposure to chloramine gas, for example, they should seek medical attention right away.

Tips for using bleach safely

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that it is critical to read and follow the safety instructions on any household cleaning product to avoid accidental exposure.

The most important things to remember when using bleach are as follows:

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleaner.
  • Always wear rubber gloves to protect the skin on the hands.
  • Wear goggles or another form of eye protection.
  • Do not breathe in product fumes.
  • Keep the windows and doors open to ventilate the area.
  • Store it away from children.

Alternatives to bleach

The environmental protection organization Beyond Toxics warn of the environmental impact of bleach. They state that the bleach manufacturing process produces a highly toxic chemical called dioxin.

In large quantities, dioxin may:

  • lead to reproductive and developmental issues
  • damage the immune system
  • interfere with hormones
  • give rise to cancer

Discarded bleach may also mix with ammonia- or acid-based products in sewers and create dangerous chloramine gas.

Some alternatives to bleach for cleaning and whitening materials include:

  • hydrogen peroxide
  • lemon juice
  • washing soda or borax
  • vinegar


Household bleach is not usually toxic, though exposure can cause irritation.

If someone gets bleach on their skin, they should clean the affected area with soap and water.

If bleach gets into the eyes, the person should first flush the eyes with water and then seek medical attention.

When mixed with other chemicals in household cleaning products, bleach can produce a toxic gas called chloramine. Chloramine gas can be hazardous and even fatal. Anyone who has exposure to chloramine should therefore speak to a doctor.

Original Article

Medical News Today: Differentiating ingrown hairs and herpes

Herpes and ingrown hairs are both common and have similar symptoms, so how can people differentiate between them?

More than half of adults in the United States have oral herpes, and 1 in 8 people between the ages of 14 and 49 years have genital herpes.

As many people shave the area around their genitals and other parts of the body that herpes may affect, it can be difficult to tell the difference between herpes and ingrown hair.

In this article, we examine the causes, symptoms, and treatment of both herpes and ingrown hair and explain how to tell them apart.


Ingrown hair

Typically, hair grows up and out of the hair follicle. Sometimes, though, the hair curls into the follicle, which causes it to grow under the skin. This downward growth can irritate the skin and cause inflammation that leads to the formation of red and painful blisters called pseudofolliculitis barbae.

Although anyone can develop ingrown hairs, they are more common in people who remove their hair, especially those who shave it.

In some people, ingrown hairs become so infected that they cause intense pain and even scarring. Sometimes, bacteria from other areas of the body get into ingrown hairs, causing painful infections that can cause fever and other signs of illness.

A person can usually prevent ingrown hairs by not removing body hair. Alternatively, the following hair removal practices may help reduce the risk of ingrown hairs:

  • exfoliating before hair removal
  • pulling the skin taut and shaving only in one direction
  • using a clean, sharp razor

Over-the-counter lotions may also reduce shaving-related irritation.

For more severe cases, a doctor may recommend retinoid cream to help the rash clear faster and steroids to relieve inflammation. When ingrown hairs become severely infected, a person might need oral antibiotics or an antibiotic cream.


Herpes is a common virus that a person gets through contact with herpes sores, which can occur if they kiss someone with oral herpes or have sex with someone with genital herpes.

The herpes virus lives in the body forever and occasionally reactivates, causing painful blisters that tend to break open and ooze.

While doctors often differentiate between oral herpes (HSV-1) and genital herpes (HSV-2), it is possible to spread oral herpes to the genitals, primarily through oral sex with an infected person who is having an outbreak.

For most people, the symptoms of herpes are mild, and after the first outbreak, subsequent outbreaks are less severe. However, in people with weakened immune systems and certain chronic illnesses, herpes may be more dangerous.

A pregnant woman may also be at risk of transmitting an active infection to the baby during vaginal delivery, so it is important for anyone who thinks that they might have herpes to get a proper diagnosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no cure for herpes. However, antiviral treatment can decrease the severity and frequency of outbreaks. It may also reduce the likelihood of a person spreading the virus to others.

How to tell the difference

Both herpes and ingrown hairs can cause painful red blisters, itching, and skin irritation.

If skin irritation is due to herpes, a person may experience:

  • sores that only appear on one side of the genitals
  • blisters that last 2–4 weeks
  • ulcers that appear 2–12 days after exposure
  • fever or flu-like symptoms
  • pain and other symptoms that occur before herpes blisters appear

It is more likely that an ingrown hair is responsible for a rash developing if a person has:

  • irritation that appears within 1–2 days of shaving or affects an area that has had exposure to a lot of friction
  • a visible hair growing just under the surface of the skin
  • risk factors for ingrown hairs, such as curly or tightly coiled hair

Other causes of skin rashes and blisters

Some other types of skin rashes and blisters include:

  • Atopic dermatitis. This common type of eczema causes the skin to become itchy and inflamed. A person might notice red, itchy spots after using a new lotion, detergent, or shampoo.
  • A life threatening allergic reaction. A sudden rash that appears out of nowhere, spreads rapidly, or covers the entire body could indicate a severe allergic reaction. The person should go to the emergency room if they have other symptoms, especially if these include difficulty breathing.
  • Eczema. Other types of this chronic skin condition cause dry, flaky patches. Sometimes, these can resemble tiny blisters.
  • Cellulitis. Cellulitis is a severe bacterial infection in the deeper layers of the skin. A person with severely infected razor burn or ingrown hairs can get cellulitis. The affected skin is usually warm and red, and it may feel swollen. Cellulitis can spread quickly and may even become life threatening without prompt treatment.

When to see a doctor

A person should see a doctor if they have:

  • a first outbreak of herpes in the genitals
  • severe symptoms of a genital herpes outbreak, such as open sores around the genitals, anus, or thighs
  • symptoms of an ingrown hair that are very severe or do not go away on their own within a few days
  • a fever alongside a rash
  • a rash that is spreading rapidly
  • a rash and also have HIV or uncontrolled diabetes or are taking drugs that weaken the immune system

Parents or caregivers should take a baby or child who develops a rash to see a healthcare professional immediately. A pregnant woman who has a herpes outbreak close to her due date should also seek immediate medical care.


It is easy to panic about a sudden rash, especially when it is painful or itchy.

However, there is no reason to try to self-diagnose the issue. A doctor can quickly tell the difference between herpes and ingrown hairs and can recommend treatments that help with either.

Original Article

Medical News Today: How to remove dead skin from the face

The skin naturally renews itself every 30 days or so. This process happens when the outer layer of the skin, or epidermis, sheds dead cells and replaces them with new ones.

Dead skin cells shed through normal daily activities, such as pulling clothes on and off. A person is unaware when old skin cells fall off throughout the day.

Exfoliation is when a person gets rid of these dead skin cells from the top layer of skin more quickly. However, people must take great care when using an exfoliant to do this, as these products can easily damage or irritate the skin.

In this article, we look at the different ways to exfoliate the skin on the face, taking skin type into consideration. We also look at what to avoid as the skin is more delicate on the face than on some other areas of the body.

How to exfoliate the face

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A person can use a natural sponge to exfoliate the face.

If someone wishes to exfoliate their face, there are a number of steps they should take:

  • Use gentle methods specifically for the face.
  • Avoid the delicate skin around the eyes and on the lips.
  • Make sure that the face is always clean before exfoliating.
  • Exfoliate the skin either manually or chemically.

Manual exfoliation

Manual exfoliation involves using a tool or scrub to remove dead skin cells from the face physically.

Chemical exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation involves using a mild acid to dissolve dead skin cells.

Most products marketed for use on the face contain low levels of chemical exfoliants, so they are safe for use by the majority of people.

Chemical exfoliants may not be suitable for those with sensitive or dry skin, as they can cause dryness or irritation.

For any chemical exfoliation, building up use gradually can help prevent skin irritation.

People should not use chemical exfoliants more than once per week initially. A dermatologist can advise on use and choosing the right product.

The most common types of chemical exfoliants are:

  • alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)
  • beta hydroxy acid (BHA)
  • retinol

It is advisable not to use AHAs, BHAs, and retinol together as they will be too harsh on the skin.

Forms of exfoliants

Below, we list the various exfoliants that may be options.


1. Washcloth

Using a washcloth is a good option for those with more sensitive skin.

Take an ordinary washcloth and moisten with warm water, then use this to rub the skin gently in small circles.

Cleansing the face before exfoliating may also be beneficial as this opens up the skin's pores.

2. Natural sponge

A natural sponge can work well to get rid of dead skin cells on the face.

Wet and wring out the sponge, then use small circular movements to exfoliate the face.

Try not to put too much pressure on the skin, as this can cause irritation. Light strokes should easily get rid of dead skin cells, as they are no longer firmly attached to the surface.

3. Face scrub

Exfoliating scrubs are a popular way to get rid of dead skin cells from the face. However, they can damage the skin as the ingredients may cause micro tears or irritation.

Avoid products that contain hard bits that do not dissolve, such as nutshell.

Scrubs that manufacturers have made from salt or sugar dissolve easily and are gentle on the skin. However, people should still only use them with caution and no more than once per week. They are generally not suitable for people with sensitive or dry skin.

As an alternative to buying commercial face scrubs, a person may want to make their own at home, such as a sugar or oatmeal scrub. Again, they should only apply these to the face once a week.


4. AHAs

AHAs work by dissolving the top layer of skin to reveal new skin cells underneath.

Use AHAs to make pores appear smaller or to lessen the appearance of fine lines.

Glycolic acid is the most common AHA.

5. BHAs

BHAs penetrate the pores to unclog them and are more suited to oily and combination skin types.

Salicylic acid is the most common BHA, and medical professionals use these to treat acne.

6. Retinol

Retinol is a form of vitamin A that people use for skin care. It is a powerful chemical exfoliant that a person can apply to treat acne.

Retinol can cause inflammation, so those with eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea may wish to avoid using it.

What to avoid

Below, we list what to avoid when exfoliating and tips to prevent damage to the skin.

  • Take care if using products that already contain benzoyl peroxide or retinol, as the American Academy of Dermatology suggest. Exfoliating on top of using these products can cause skin problems.
  • Avoid buying products that manufacturers have designed for use on other areas of the body, as they are too harsh for the delicate skin on the face. Choose a product that is specifically for use on the face.
  • Avoid exfoliating damaged or sunburnt skin or if there is an existing skin condition. Testing an exfoliant on a small patch of skin can help check for irritation.
  • Moisturize after exfoliating and use a high factor sunscreen to protect the skin. All exfoliation increases sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) light.
  • Exfoliate before shaving or using other methods of hair removal. This helps to prevent dead skin cells from clogging pores that may become more open during shaving.
  • Avoid exfoliating on the morning of an important event, or even the night before. Removing dead skin from the face may cause some redness or irritation.

Skin type

It is important to understand a person's skin type to find the best way of removing and exfoliating dead skin from the face.

The main skin types are:

  • normal
  • dry
  • oily
  • combination
  • sensitive

A person can determine their skin type at home by washing their face with water, then gently patting it dry. After 1 hour, a tissue should be pressed to the chin, nose, forehead, and cheeks in turn. By looking for traces of oil on the tissue, a person should be able to work out their skin type, as follows:

  • Normal skin: No oil on the tissue, and no evidence of dryness.
  • Dry skin: No oil on the tissue, and the skin feels tight or looks flaky.
  • Oily skin: Oil on the tissue, and skin looks shiny.
  • Combination skin: Cheeks are normal or dry; oil on the tissue from nose, forehead, or chin.
  • Sensitive skin: Skin feels itchy and looks red, or dry.


A range of exfoliants is available, and there are many simple recipes for making a scrub at home. Use exfoliants with care, as they can damage sensitive skin.

Overuse of exfoliants or the use of products that are too harsh can be irritating even to skin that is not sensitive.

Gently exfoliating once a week with the correct type of exfoliant for a person's skin type can help make the complexion appear clearer. It may also help to treat or prevent breakouts.

Original Article

Medical News Today: Removing the core of a boil: What to know

A boil is a large, red, painful lump on the skin. It is a type of skin infection that develops around a hair follicle or oil gland. These infections occur when bacteria become trapped beneath the skin.

Over time, a boil will develop a collection of pus in its center. This is known as the core of the boil. Do not attempt to remove the core at home as doing so can cause the infection to worsen or spread to other areas.

Boils can go away on their own without medical intervention. In some cases, home treatments can help alleviate symptoms and encourage healing. However, if the boil does not clear up naturally, a person should see their doctor.

Keep reading for more information on safe ways to alleviate boil symptoms at home and when to see a doctor.

How doctors remove the core of a boil

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A person should see their doctor to remove the core of a boil safely.

Medical professionals, such as doctors and dermatologists, are the only people who can safely remove the core of a boil.

Removing the core of a boil is an outpatient procedure that requires a local anesthetic. Once the boil and surrounding area are numb, the doctor will cut a small incision in the boil. The incision allows some of the pus to drain out.

A doctor may then insert gauze into the incision to help drain any additional pus.

A person can return home the same day of the procedure. A doctor may prescribe topical or oral antibiotics to help prevent the infection from spreading.

Why people should not remove a boil themselves at home

A person should never attempt to remove the core of a boil at home. Squeezing or bursting a boil creates an open wound on the skin. This allows bacteria from the boil to enter the bloodstream. Once inside the bloodstream, the bacteria can spread to other parts of the body.

Squeezing or bursting a boil also increases the risk of scarring. Some of the bacteria in boils may spread to other people.

In most cases, a boil will go away on its own within a few weeks. During this time, a person can try home remedies, such as warm compresses to help alleviate pain and swelling.

When to see a doctor

A boil will typically heal on its own within a few weeks. The American Academy of Dermatology state that a person should see a doctor if they experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • swelling or worsening pain after several days
  • development of an additional boil or stye
  • fever
  • vision problems

A person may also want to visit their doctor if they have multiple or recurrent boils. This can be a sign of other underlying health issues, such as a weakened immune system.

Tips for caring for a boil at home

The following home care options may help alleviate boil symptoms or prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of your body or other people:

  • taking ibuprofen to help reduce pain and swelling
  • holding a warm, wet compress against the boil for 10–15 minutes three to four times each day until the pus starts to drain
  • keeping the boil and its surrounding area clean
  • avoiding touching the boil
  • keeping a burst boil covered
  • washing the hands and the area of the boil well


It can take anywhere from 2–21 days for a boil to burst and drain on its own. However, if a boil becomes bigger, does not go away, or is accompanied by fever, increasing pain, or other symptoms, a person should see their doctor.

Following treatment, a boil should drain and heal fully. The person can expect a full recovery.


Boils are bacterial skin infections that cause red, pus-filled bumps to form around hair follicles or oil glands.

Home treatments can help to alleviate symptoms and prevent the spread of infection. Treatment generally entails keeping the area clean, and applying warm compresses to encourage pus to drain from the core.

A person should never try to squeeze or burst a boil, as this can cause the infection to spread to other areas of the body. It may also result in scarring.

If a boil is particularly big, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms, a person should see their doctor. In some cases, a doctor may carry out a procedure to drain the boil. This is an outpatient procedure requiring the use of local anesthetic.

Original Article