Bleach usage for any purpose other than what is designated on its bottle is always a bad idea. Because bleach is not meant for use on the skin, putting it directly or indirectly on your body can lead to negative, harmful effects. The damage that can be caused to your body because of bleach can be used to exemplify why all things on the internet should be examined for a proper source. While no podiatrist or medical treatment would ever recommend this, some sources on the internet suggest that bleach can be used to treat toenail fungus infections. This is a harmful suggestion for a few very important reasons. For one, bleach usage can cause chemical burns. 


Chemical burns from topical bleach usage are very serious conditions that develop when chemicals are misused or come into contact with the skin accidentally. Chemical burns are one of the most likely injuries to result from putting bleach on the skin. These burns develop as a result of corrosive, dangerous chemicals coming into contact with the surface of the skin. Bleach is a corrosive cleaning product that is not meant for any use on the human body. The chemical is harsh so that it can effectively clean surfaces like bathroom tiles and kitchen surfaces. The makeup of bleach is very basic, which means that it has a pH that is well above the neutral 7. In fact, the pH of bleach is very close to 14, which is the most basic that a substance can be. This means that the pH of bleach is a similar magnitude of difference from neutral pH as stomach acid is. Putting a chemical that is this corrosive onto your skin will disturb your body’s natural equilibrium. This will usually lead to damage, since the pH of your body is functional. 


Bleach usage can cause varying degrees of chemical burns. If the bleach isn’t left on the surface of the skin for too long, the burn could just be some minor irritation and redness. To avoid a more severe degree of irritation and burn, you should remove the bleach from your skin as soon as possible. First, you should rinse as much of the bleach off of your skin as possible. Do this by running your skin under a stream of room temperature water for at least 5 minutes, and then thoroughly wash the surface with soap and water afterwards as well. 


Bleach usage can be damaging, so if you have attempted this treatment you need to immediately assess the harm that has been done to your skin. Once the bleach has been successfully washed away, see if you have visible redness on your skin. If it is mildly red and not painful, you can wait and see if the condition improves by itself. More serious chemical burns involve blistering, pus formation, throbbing pain, emanating red streaks from the original source of the burn, and more. If you have these symptoms, you need to be evaluated by a medical professional immediately. Second and third degree chemical burns occur when the chemical absorbs into deeper layers of skin than the most superficial layer. Damage to these tissues is more serious because these tissues are thicker, with more specialized cell types and more important functions to the body. For example, when deeper layers of skin become burned and damaged from bleach, this causes the skin’s natural protection from infection to diminish. This is an important barrier from infection for the entire body, and deep chemical burns could have implications for the body itself. 


Implications for bleach usage include necessity for medical treatment for chemical burns. Treating may involve IV fluids, antibiotics, physical therapy, and cosmetic surgery; to avoid chemical burns developing in the first place, don’t use bleach on your skin at all. Toenail fungus is often an embarrassing and frustrating condition to treat, but bleach shouldn’t even be a last resort. It is not recommended by any podiatrists, and isn’t likely to even help the fungal infection at all. There are much more effective treatments available for toenail fungus out there that are overall much better options than bleach. Bleach usage has only one benefit, which is convenience. However, the inconvenience of a severe chemical burn is much scarier and more annoying to deal with than simply receiving effective treatment from a licensed podiatrist in the first place. 


While a majority of treatments available for toenail fungus lack effectiveness or pose risks of danger, there are some options available that are effective and still safe. If you have a toenail fungus, you should be able to receive appropriate, effective, and safe treatment for it so that you can be cured without putting your body at risk. The PinPointe laser is an FDA-approved treatment for fungus that only requires one session to eliminate the fungus. To learn more about the PinPointe laser technology and schedule a free consultation with one of our podiatrists, visit our website here.