21 October 2021

Repeat after me: Bleach is not medicine

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The NSW poisons hotline is being inundated by people who want to know why their skin is on fire after bathing in bleach.

Two experts who work with the NSW Poisons Information Centre have asked the public to lay off the bleach in an editorial published in The Conversation today. 

“Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen an increasing number of people calling us about home remedies to prevent or cure covid-19, particularly during an outbreak,” the two experts said.

“They’re calling for advice before using items such as bleach or disinfectant. Or they’re calling to ask about side-effects after gargling, spraying or bathing in them.” 

Bleach to the eyeballs is also not recommended!

People calling the poisons hotline said they did not know they could be harmful and others said they thought it was better to do something, rather than nothing.

The most common enquiries related to: 

– Bathing in bleach or disinfectant, which can cause mild-to-moderate irritation and rashes.

– Nebulising or turning hydrogen peroxide into a fine mist and giving it a good sniff, which can cause irritation, swelling and damage to the nose, throat and lungs.

– Gargling antiseptics, which can cause irritation, swelling and pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Despite what ex-president and non-doctor Donald Trump has said in the past, bleach is ABSOLUTELY NOT a prophylactic for covid and any exposure to skin, eyes or lungs is the chemical equivalent to cuddling a cheese grater.

Don’t try this at home.

In their piece, which you can read here, NSW Poisons Information Centre deputy manager Nicole Wright and pharmacist and toxicologist Associate Professor Darren Roberts said “covid-19 is arguably the most confusing time in recent history for making decisions about our health care”.

But home remedies for covid have caused death and complications overseas, and it would be good to avoid this in Australia, they said. 

If you feel the urge to glug disinfectant, try a vodka martini instead – tastier and less lethal. Or try emailing felicity@medicalrepublic.com.au story tips.

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