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Can prologned use of undiluted bleach on hands lead to health risk and complications during pregnany?

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Hi, I have an anxiety disorder where over a period of 18 months I used undiluted bleach on my hands (max of 10 seconds before washing off) to feel 'clean'. This would have been quite regularly, 3-5 times a week. My question is, can this cause long term effects (ie, build up in your body)? Or, more importantly, can this affect a baby if I am pregnant (I have not touched bleach in my pregnancy). I am nearly 5 weeks pregnant and have not been bleaching my hands during that time.
Posted Tue, 21 Jan 2014 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Timothy Raichle 21 hours later
Brief Answer: Hello, I would be happy to help you Detailed Answer: The bleach itself can cause harm to your skin but is unlikely to cause any long-term damage given what you have described. Also, the prior use of bleach cannot cause harm to your current pregnancy. Since you have stopped the use of the bleach since you knew you were pregnant, then you have nothing to worry about in this regard. One issue that is brought up by all of this, though, is behavior that is considered "obsessive-compulsive". This is a common problem and there are ways to treat this condition if it is causing you stress. Make sure that you are open with your OB Provider regarding this behavior and see what they think as well. I hope that this helps and good luck!
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Follow-up: Can prologned use of undiluted bleach on hands lead to health risk and complications during pregnany? 5 hours later
Thanks for the reassurance XXXXXXX I appreciate your response. I know that I need to get help with my anxiety and I have booked in to see the doctor first thing Monday. Just to confirm, this use of bleach on the hands, completely undiluted, even if it were everyday, up to 1 month before pregnancy, has no possibility to cause harm to my baby (no build up affect in body).?? I have this terrible feeling that I have put this new life at risk through my stupidity, and the stress from this feeling is making it difficult for me to enjoy my pregnancy.
Answered by Dr. Timothy Raichle 5 hours later
Brief Answer: Thank you for the followup... Detailed Answer: Use of undiluted bleach as a topical cleanser only is likely to cause irritation of the skin (called dermatitis). The prognosis for this clearing up and not being a long term issue is very good. I can find no evidence, nor theorize, any harm to a developing fetus. In 2-3% of pregnancies, some sort of "anomaly" is present. The vast majority of these are common, benign findings. If your fetus had an anomalous finding on a 20 week anatomy scan, I would NOT associate it with the use of undiluted bleach for cleaning your hands only. So there are no guarantees that your child will be perfect - it is the same for all of us. But for your reassurance, if you were a patient of mine, I believe that I could confidently reassure you that no harm could have been done related to the bleach for cleaning of your hands. I hope that this helps and good luck!
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Can prologned use of undiluted bleach on hands lead to health risk and complications during pregnany? 39 minutes later
Thanks Dr XXXXXXX your advice is helpful. Just one final question. Last night my daughter managed to rub a blob of Aquim Gel (hand sanitizer) across my mouth with a small amount actually getting in my mouth. Once I realized I had this on my lips (about 3 mins later), I washed my face, but there would have been a small amount that would have entered my mouth. Should I have swallowed any amount in this way, does this pose any risk to my unborn baby at all. Sorry to sound silly, just wanted to be sure. Thanks Again Dr XXXXXXX :)
Answered by Dr. Timothy Raichle 18 minutes later
Brief Answer: Happy to help... Detailed Answer: There is no possible way that this minimal exposure to hand sanitizer could have caused harm to your fetus. This is the same reassurance that I would provide to a patient of my own. Good luck!
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