Eczema is a chronic autoimmune disease. Although it can’t be cured, certain treatments and natural remedies may help relieve the symptoms of eczema. Some MyEczemaTeam members bathe with Epsom salts to help manage eczema symptoms, in addition to their prescribed treatments.
Although Epsom salts can’t treat the underlying overactivation of the immune system, they may help manage skin symptoms like dryness, itchiness, and irritation. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist before trying any new home remedies as part of your eczema skin care routine.
Epsom salts are a mineral salt named after a saltwater spring in Surrey, England. Specifically, Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate — a compound of the elements magnesium, considered to be its active ingredient, and sulfur. (Table salt, on the other hand, is composed of the elements sodium and chlorine.) Epsom salts have been recommended by integrative medicine practitioners to help with a range of complaints, including muscle soreness, anxiety, stress, and sleeping problems.
Some MyEczemaTeam members swear by Epsom salts as a remedy to help calm eczema-prone skin. “Who would’ve ever known,” asked one member, “that Epsom salt baths help to heal dead, itchy, red skin? It helps with dead skin so the new skin can form a barrier.”
Another member shared their experience with Epsom salts: “My foot was a weepy, itchy mess. … This morning, the itch is a tingle. Dead Sea salt and Epsom salt baths help, so I thought I’d give it a go. … I’ve now had three sessions, and my skin is a lot better! The itch is under control, and the redness is gone.” Another member simply shared, “Epsom salt is very good when eczema is infected.”
Although anecdotal evidence supports the benefits of Epsom salts, researchers have not yet determined the safety and efficacy of Epsom salts for eczema. However, some experts cite the salt’s exfoliating qualities as potentially beneficial to inflamed, itchy skin caused by eczema.
Other experts report that the typical modern diet has left many people deficient in magnesium, which may lead to a slew of problems, including psoriasis, acne, and eczema. Epsom salt soaks may help increase magnesium in the body, decreasing cortisol (the “stress hormone”) and reducing inflammation. These benefits may be important to people with eczema, as the skin condition is closely linked to inflammatory processes and stress.
Some researchers have also claimed that magnesium — the active ingredient in Epsom salts — is more effectively absorbed through the skin (transdermally) than through the digestive tract. However, these claims have been disputed. There is not yet enough scientific evidence that the salt can be absorbed through the skin while bathing.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Epsom salts can help alleviate anxiety and depression, help with sleep, and decrease overall stress. Some research has even suggested that magnesium can increase the brain’s production of serotonin (the mood-stabilizing hormone) and help manage treatment-resistant depression.
Although Epsom salts cannot replace medical treatment, the salts' relaxing, stress-relieving properties may help those with eczema who struggle with stress or mental health issues find temporary relief. This stress relief may potentially help lessen eczema flare-ups (as flares appear to be linked to psychological stress).
Epsom salts are most commonly used during bathing as a soak. The Cleveland Clinic recommends adding about one cup (300 grams) of Epsom salts to your bath water and soaking in the dissolved salts for 15 minutes. Although hot water will help the salt dissolve more quickly, it is recommended that people with eczema bathe only in warm water to prevent worsening of symptoms. The National Eczema Association also recommends following baths with a moisturizer or emollient to help seal in hydration.
Some MyEczemaTeam members add other ingredients to their baths alongside Epsom salts. As one member shared, “When it comes to skin that has already been scratched and is raw, I like to do a bath bomb with oils and Epsom salts. It soothes the irritated, raw skin that I have scratched. I like to get Dr. Teal’s Epsom salt bath bombs — they have eucalyptus in them, and it seems to help, especially with the itching.”
Talk to your dermatologist before trying Epsom salts for eczema. The doctor will be able to determine whether the product is right for you and if it may potentially worsen your symptoms.
Once you’ve gotten your dermatologist’s go-ahead, keep a few things in mind before using Epsom salts. As the Cleveland Clinic advises, Epsom salts should only be used externally. Consuming the salt can cause potentially dangerous side effects like severe diarrhea, which may lead to dehydration. Avoid using Epsom salts on skin that is broken, inflamed, or infected, as this may worsen the irritation and cause discomfort.
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Have you tried Epsom salts to manage your eczema symptoms? Share your experience and tips in the comments below or by posting on MyEczemaTeam.