First of all…I love epsom salts!
They helped me a lot, especially when I came back from Italy, and all I ate there for 2 weeks was pizza, pasta, gelato, and sandwiches! When I was there, my skin became really red and dry because my body reacted from all the bad foods that I was putting in my body (and my body really does not handle sugar well!).
Soaking in epsom salt baths really helped to speed up the healing process.
Below is a video I made on my experience with epsom salts (skip to 2:44 for instructions on how to use it). For more detailed instructions on using epsom salts and how/why epsom salts work, keep reading below.
So what Exactly Are Epsom Salts?
Epsom salt is called a “hydrated salt” and is basically an inorganic salt made from magnesium and sulfate. Named after Epsom in Surrey, England, these salts have many medical uses, and have even earned a place as one of the WHO’s Essential Medicines. They’re especially beneficial for soothing skin troubles.
How Epsom Salts Can Relieve Your Eczema
Epsom salts can work wonders for distressed skin. By providing easily absorbable magnesium sulfate directly into the skin, these salts can provide local and systemic anti-inflammatory action. Swelling and pain are soothed and even better, an Epsom salt soak can calm itchiness.1
Did you know that magnesium plays a critical role in over 325 enzymes in your body? By soaking in epsom salts, it can help to improve muscle and nerve function, reduce inflammation and improve blood flow and oxygenation in your body.
Here are a few other reasons why epsom salts can relieve your eczema:
1. Sulfates are needed to build healthy joints, skin and nervous tissue. Epsom salts help replenish the body’s magnesium levels and sulfates, which also helps to flush toxins from the body and build key protein molecules in the brain and joints.
2. Sulfate molecules are so useful because they are negatively charged and able to attract (and extract) heavy metals from the body – which can irritate skin and also be a cause for eczema.
3. Epsom salts also act as an alkalizing agent – which means they can balance your body’s pH and draw toxins and foreign substances from the body.
4. Because magnesium sulfate is hydroscopic, i.e. draws water to itself, it often acts as an antimicrobial and prevents the overgrowth of bacterial and fungal elements directly on the surface of the skin.
5. Lastly, Epsom salt is just a naturally effective cleanser and exfoliant for the skin.2 While you soak, the salt gently lifts the dry, damaged surface skin to reveal new skin underneath. Eczema sufferers often have compromised skin barrier function, but Epsom salts can refresh and strengthen this skin barrier, allowing the microbial flora on the skin’s surface to flourish.
Since epsom salts are very detoxing – just make sure not to overdo them! 2-3 times a week is a good amount. When I came back from Italy, I did it everyday and started getting headaches because my body was detoxing so fast (I even got sick!).
Why Epsom Salt Baths Help Restore Skin Barrier
Epsom salts can speed up skin barrier recovery. Often in eczema, the top layer of the skin becomes porous after damage done by toxins and/or microbes. This damage changes the pH and microbial flora of the skin, which means that more toxins and microbes can enterthe lower layers where they cause more irritation, inflammation and hypersensitive reactions.
In a 1999 study published in the Archives of Dermatological Research, researchers found that magnesium salts sped up the recovery of the skin barrier.1
For the study, they used hairless mice and exposed their skins to 4 different types of magnesium salts for 12 minutes (which is the equivalent of taking an epsom salt baths for humans).
The study confirmed the positive effects of magnesium salts on the skin barrier. They also found that adding calcium salts (in equal or lower portions) to the magnesium salts improved the barrier recovery action.
These results suggest that both Epsom salt bath and mixed bath salts may be effective for restoring the skin barrier as well as for keeping out toxins and pathogens.
Creating Your Own Epsom Salt Spa Treatment
One of the most wonderful things about epsom salts is that you can enjoy it as a special treat where you relax, unwind and indulge in a bit of self care.
(Psst – here’s a little trick: if the epsom salts dries your skin out, put an oil like coconut oil on your body before you hop into the bath, or add some drops of oil into your bath. When you come out of the shower, moisturize again, and your skin will feel so moisturized and soft! Showers no longer dry out my skin anymore because of this. You can also add in essential oils, like this lavender essential oil, to give yourself a relaxing bath experience).
Here are instructions on how to take a relaxing epsom salt bath:
Step 1: Start by running a nice warm bath. There’s no need to make the water any hotter or cooler than you usually prefer it, simply avoid scalding temperatures as this can make skin feel tight and dry.
Step 2: Dissolve around 1 to 3 cups of salt into the water (more for a bigger bath). Start at 1 cup if you are very sick, but 2 cups seems to be about the standard amount (working up to 3 is the advanced range). If you’re bathing children, scale it back to a half-cup. You should also slowly work your way up to 2 cups since it’s possible to experience detox reactions (like the headaches I experienced). An optional addition is to add 1/4-1 cup of baking soda (helps reduce itchiness).
Step 3: You can submerge your entire body or make a small “bath” for a particular affected area only. Lie back, exhale deeply and let the warmth of the water open your pores so the salt can do its work. The usual timing is to soak for 10-40 minutes; however, many find that 20 minutes is the magical number. Turn on relaxing music, mood lighting, or even essential oils (like this lavender oil) to add even more relaxation to your bath.
Step 4 (optional): If you want a deeper relaxation experience, try meditation or deep breathing. There are many ways to do this, but one of the easiest is to try 5-5-5 triangle breathing. Inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, and breathe out for 5 seconds. You can also use this time to list things that you’re grateful for. Sometimes I even just watch a TV show on my lap top (making sure it’s not close to my bath!) just to relax. Do what makes you happy and rested. 🙂
Step 4: When you come out of your shower, cleanse as normal and then very, very gently pat yourself dry with a fluffy, clean towel. To seal in all the benefits of your homemade spa treatment and to prevent your skin from drying, immediately follow with your favourite moisturizer or oil. I like coconut oil because it smells divine and amps up the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of the Epsom salts. It’s also deeply moisturizing.
Note that epsom salt baths may also sting if your eczema is severe (but it will go away once you’re in the water for a while). For me, I find that it only stings if I directly touch the epsom salts, but once it melts, it no longer stings (even if I have open wounds).
An eczema flare up is a loud and clear message from your body that you need to stop, take a breath and nurture yourself a little. There’s no lovelier, cheaper and more convenient way to do this than with your own homemade epsom salt soak.
Try this fun “recipe” for a healing eczema bath: Mix 2 cups of Epsom salt into the running water then add 10 drops each of lavender oil, rose hip oil and calendula oil to nourish your skin and soothe aches and pains. If you’re feeling extra fancy, throw in a few rose petals, put on some relaxing music, and add some mood lighting 🙂
Want to purchase epsom salts for a relaxing bath?
Click here to purchase it on Amazon.
What’s your own experience of epsom salt baths been like? Hope you enjoy it! Share your experiences in the comments below 🙂
1. [Epsom Salt Baths for Eczema]↩
2. [Quick Cures/Quack Cures: Is Epsom Worth Its Salt?]↩
Want to check out my latest Healing Eczema: Why Dieting Is Not Enough eBook or my Personal Eczema Treatment Plan Guide? Click here for more information or check out my resource page for a full list of Products I Love!
Abby is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who helps clients achieve optimal health. She is passionate about seeing people use health and nutrition to transform lives. She hopes that her experiences and knowledge can help educate others on natural remedies that will help eczema. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube for more updates!
Disclaimer: All the information found on this website should be used for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace proper medical advice. Always consult a qualified health care provider before embarking on a health or supplement plan.