How Dangerous is Bleach to the Skin?

Say I wanted to do Howard Hughes one better and spray myself with bleach in the shower to really clean my skin. Of course, I’d avoid the face and rinse off immediately, but would I be doing more harm than good?

You would be very sorry. As someone who’s had the occasional splash, I can assure you that it is quite caustic.

When I worked for a pressure cleaner, we used a 50% bleach solution to remove mildew off of roofs and sidewalks. After every job I would be soaked with the stuff, and it didn’t bother my skin at all (except the mist would bother your lungs). So I think at that concentration, only sensitive-skin people would get irritated.

Here’s a MSDS for bleach at 12% if you want to read about it. I don’t know what the regular concentration that bleach is sold at in the grocery store, but that would probably burn your skin unless you diluted it. Why don’t you just use plain soap? It seems to work just fine.

Your ancestors long since adapted to the micro-organisms that have always been around, but they didn’t adapt to bleach.

Sure it would kill any germs. I don’t know what it would do to your skin, but the bleach bottle doesn’t recommend contact even with the diluted solution.

And, seconds later, the normal bacteria in the air and on every material you contact would start landing on your raw surface.

And your pubic hair would turn white. :eek:

Some water is clorinated, which is sort of like a dilute bleach solution which you can drink.

Skin is happy at a slightly acidic pH of 5.5 or so. Bleach is pretty basic, commonly having a pH of about 12.

Very dilute=1.0 /2.0 parts per million

I believe the basic laundry bleach is a 5% concentrate.

Definitely enough to irritate even my skin.

I looked at your profile. It didn’t say “crazy as a loon”, so why do you want to do such a thing? This isn’t one of thosewierd sex things, is it? :wink:

Prolonged exposure to bleach can cause an individual to become allergic to it (I’m speaking from experience). I worked as a waitress for a fairly short amount of time, and we used bleach water to wipe down tables. After about 5 or 6 months, I started having severe headaches, asthma attacks, the whole 9 yards, and was later diagnosed with an extremely sensitive allergy to bleach.

Not to mention breathing that in while you spray yourself would not be good, and if bleach kills germs it will kill body cells.

Nitpick: I don’t think this is strictly true. Bad for bacteria != Bad for body cells.
If that was true, how would antibiotics not kill us?

As a matter of fact, I suspect that bleach would kill off the naturally occuring beneficial bacteria on your skin, leaving you unprotected to the other bacteria as mentioned by MaryEFoo above.

I am not a doctor, but as far as I know antibiotics work by boosting your bodies natural immune system, and then your immune system does the dirty work of actually disabling the bacteria.

In the case of bleach it would dissolve the walls of the cells and destroy them. Bleach will certainly kill cells. However, your body has several layers of dead skin, so I’m not sure a light spritzing of an extremely dillute bleach sollution would have any serious consequences. I just don’t see what the point would be.

This is very incorrect. Antibiotics do kill bacteria. They may also kill some body cells, though they’re designed not to, and often kill the “good” bacteria that live in our gut. A successfull antibiotic is one that kills bacteria long before it kills us. Here’s some easy info on how antibiotics work

Bleach is very alkaline, and as such is damaging to the skin. Ever notice that slippery feeling of bleach if you get it on your hands? That slipperiness is fat. From your skin. The bleach has dissolved a little bit of your fat out of your body. eeeew. This means your skin will start to crack and peel and burn eventually. It also means that your shower floor would be unbelievably slick with melted lipids, and falling is very likely. (Silly, I know, but it is a risk!) The fumes can burn the inner lining of your lungs, causing respiratory problems, as well.

Seriously, Nobody Special, I’m concerned that this is even an issue for you. Are you very concerned about germs, or cleanliness or is it something else? This sounds like a OCD issue, or a serious phobia. Please seek help if this is the case. In any case, do **not **spray yourself with bleach.

thanks whynot, learn something new every day.

Nope. Antibiotics are prokaryote (bacteria) specific toxins. Some of them prevent bacterial protein synthesis. Some open pores in the walls of bacteria, some mess with cell wall or RNA synthesis. They operate by all sorts of different, specific mechanisms. Bleach on the other hand is nonspecific. It messes with redox potential, and adds chlorine to reactive groups, or across the double bonds of, most any organic molecule.

Perhaps The Cat was thinking of vaccine, which works somewhat as described.

Bleach isn’t good for your skin. Concentrated solutions kill cells and cause caustic burns. Bleach is TERRIBLE for your esophagus and eyes. As a resident, I saw people die from drinking Javex, and have seen folks suffer vision loss from bleach blanket bingo.

Dr_Pap, ER Guy