Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common complaints presenting to dermatologists, and patients typically inquire as to appropriate bathing recommendations. Although many dermatologists, allergists, and primary-care practitioners provide explicit bathing instructions, recommendations regarding frequency of bathing, duration of bathing, and timing related to emollient and medication application relative to bathing vary widely. Conflicting and vague guidelines stem from knowledge related to the disparate effects of water on skin, as well as a dearth of studies, especially randomized controlled trials, evaluating the effects of water and bathing on the skin of patients with atopic dermatitis. We critically review the literature related to bathing and associated atopic dermatitis treatments, such as wet wraps, bleach baths, bath additives, and balneotherapy. We aim to provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of the impact of water and related therapies on atopic dermatitis as well as recommendations based upon the published data.
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