News & Research

Eczema Research News – Reduce Staph Bacteria?

Reducing Staph Bacteria helps Eczema Child
Reducing Staph Bacteria helps Eczema Child (picture from

This is part of a quarterly round-up of some of the recent eczema-related studies, so that we can be aware of possible treatments and their efficacy (and I can also keep myself updated with the latest eczema research!)

Today’s topic is on Staph Bacteria, should we Reduce it? Staph, short for Staphylococcus aureus, is a bacteria that is frequently found on the skin of eczema patients. I have wrote about staph bacteria from as early as 2011, covering topics from:

What Causes Your Child’s Eczema – Staph (series from review article “Features of childhood atopic dermatitis” by Hugo Van Bever and Genevieve Illanora)

Staph Bacteria series with Dr Clay Cockerell

MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staph Aureus) decolonisation

At the same time, I have been encouraging parents to bring their children for swimming or to clean the child’s eczema skin with chlorhexidine, with the intention of reducing the staph bacteria which promote skin inflammation via the provocation of mast skin cells. My purpose today is to update on the literature behind staph bacteria, in the hope of knowing if we ought to be more vigilant at reducing the staph bacteria on our child’s skin.

What is Staph Bacteria?

Staph is short for staphylococcus aureus, a very resilient bacteria found on the skin that can survive in dry condition and on dry skin with little oxygen.  It tends to involve areas that are warm and moist especially such as skin near mucous membranes such as the nose, mouth, genitals and anal area. It is found in about 25-30% of healthy adults who are known as carriers and generally does not cause an infection in those with otherwise healthy skin. However, in almost 90% of eczema patients, staph bacteria colonizes their skin.

What harm does Staph cause?

According to a research paper, the staph bacteria “causes immune-system cells in the skin to react in a way that produces eczema-like rashes. The release of the molecule, called delta toxin, by staph bacteria caused immune-related mast cells in the skin to release tiny granules that cause inflammation”. 

How to reduce Staph bacteria on our child’s skin?

Swimming, bleach bath, chlorhexidine

What’s the studies on treatment involving the active reduction of staph bacteria?

We are interested in this, obviously, it is important to know if the measures that we are taking in the care of our child’s eczema skin is effective. Based on the studies I looked up on PubMed from 2013 onward:

Bleach bath is effective in eczema treatment, via reduction of staph bacteria (here)

Confirmation that children with eczema have staph bacteria colonization on their skin (here), likewise for adults (here, in particular it was hypothesized that staph bacteria colonization may have facilitated the penetration of allergens into the skin, triggering rash)

Update for August 2015 study which contrary to previous studies, showed that a four-week, twice-weekly regime of bleach baths is no more effective than water in a double-blinded, placebo-controlled cross-over trial.

Staph bacteria associated with higher severity of eczema (here)

A number of studies mentioned the concern over MRSA, and that prescription such as fusidic acid may lead to the bacteria being resistant to treatment (here).

Have you tried any of the staph bacteria reduction tips for your child? Is it effective? Do share in the comments, thank you!

Your sharing will help others!