The UK’s NHS spends somewhere in the region of £16m per year on bath products (as much as 70p per bath) for the treatment of allergic eczema but researchers believe this may well be ‘a waste of money’. Allergic eczema is a condition which most commonly affects children.

Researchers suggest that there is no clinical evidence, nor concensus of medical opinion to suggest that emollient bath water products work in treating skin disorders although NHS guidelines suggest to the contrary.

The same report considers the use of topical products applied directly to the skin do benefit the condition, it says “long clinical experience has suggested that emollients applied directly to the skin are effective and safe”.

While bath emollients have been considered an easier way to treat large areas of affected skin and were also thought to ‘trap’ moisture into the skin, the research has found nothing to support this. They also concluded that the possibility of an accident was raised due to slippery bath surface! We would like to add that it also means more bath cleaning (that’s from our experience not research!).

Both the National Eczema Society and the British Association of Dermatologists dispute the findings with the former claiming that research ignored “the extensive evidence from those patients and parents who find the use of bath emollients both soothing and extremely beneficial”.

With years of use, we can only assume that the benefit derived from individuals may not be consistent and that any soothing benefit from bath emollients should be accepted. For those who fail to see any appreciable benefit perhaps a topical solution may be more suitable.

Whatever you decide to do – take care getting in and out of the bath!