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Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a common staple in most kitchens. It’s a key ingredient in many baked goods, and you can even use it for a green way to clean around your home.

Baking soda is found in many oral healthcare products too, and some people even use baking soda to help clear up several common skin conditions. However, there are potential risks to using it on your skin.

Read on to learn the benefits and risks of using baking soda on your skin, and tips for using it safely.

Baking soda is easy to find and affordable. In some cases, it can take the place of more expensive skin care products.

Baking soda may be used for a variety of conditions affecting the skin. Some of these uses are backed by research, while others only have anecdotal evidence and should be used with caution.

1. Acne

Baking soda is a natural antiseptic with antibacterial properties. It may help reduce bacteria that causes acne when applied topically. However, it’s not widely recommended that you wash your face with baking soda or use it for acne.

This treatment may be used with caution on the shoulders or back, but should not be used on large areas of the body or on the face.

To use, make a paste of baking soda and water. Leave on acne patches for up to 15 minutes and rinse.

2. Eczema

Baking soda is not a cure for eczema, but it may help relieve the itch associated with it. The National Eczema Association recommends adding 1/4 cup baking soda to a warm (not hot) bath and soaking for 10 to 15 minutes. Gently towel dry your skin and moisturize afterwards.

3. Psoriasis

Some research suggests baking soda is not beneficial for psoriasis when used as a topical paste. However, some people with psoriasis claim they find relief from itchiness and redness after taking a bath with baking soda and oatmeal. To use in a bath, follow the steps above for treating symptoms of eczema.

4. Chickenpox

Taking a baking soda and oatmeal bath may help reduce itching and redness caused by chickenpox. Add one cup of each to bath water and soak for 20 minutes.

5. Hemorrhoids

While not a cure, the pain, itching, and inflammation of hemorrhoids may be soothed in a baking soda bath. Follow the instructions above for making a baking soda bath.

6. Ichthyosis

Ichthyosis refers to a group of skin conditions that can cause dry and thickened, scaly skin all over the body. Immersion in bath water treated with baking soda is an old treatment for this condition.

It’s theorized that baking soda alters the pH of bath water, helping to exfoliate the scales caused by these conditions. More research is needed to support these claims.

7. Mosquito bites

A paste of baking soda and water may help alleviate the itching caused by bug bites.

To make a paste, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to form a paste. Apply to your bug bite and let sit for up to 10 minutes before washing the paste off your skin.

8. Bee stings

Anecdotal evidence suggests baking soda paste may neutralize bee venom, plus reduce the pain, redness, and swelling of bee or wasp stings.

9. Poison ivy

If you get poison ivy, sumac, or poison oak, a baking soda bath may help reduce itch and alleviate redness, according to anecdotal evidence. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims, however.

To use, add 1 cup of baking soda to a warm bath and soak for 15 minutes.

10. Fungal infections

Fungal infections of the skin and nails, such as onychomycosis, have been shown to improve when soaked in a solution of baking soda and water.

11. Yeast infections (candidiasis)

Yeast is a type of fungus. Baking soda’s positive effects on fungal infections may also make it an effective treatment for the itchiness, redness, and swelling caused by candidiasis, an overgrowth of Candida yeast on skin.

Research is limited, but you may try soaking in a baking soda bath to help treat candidiasis. Be sure to fully dry your skin after the bath.

12. Ingrown hair removal

Baking soda can be used as a gentle exfoliator to remove ingrown hair from skin. There’s no data baking up this use for baking soda, but lots of people swear by its effectiveness.

Try making a paste with water or a non-comedogenic oil. Then gently scrub the area of skin containing ingrown hairs in a circular motion.

Baking soda is an alkaline chemical compound. Because it’s alkaline, baking soda can alter the natural pH of skin.

Any substance with a pH below 7.0 is acidic, and any substance with a pH above 7.0 is alkaline. Skin is meant to be slightly acidic, with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5, but baking soda has a pH of 9.

Increasing the pH of your skin can lead to dryness, irritation, and other side effects. Baking soda’s alkalinity also makes it too basic of a solution to use as a face wash. It may strip the skin of necessary oils, and disrupt the acid mantle your skin needs to protect it from infection and breakouts.

Dissolved baking soda can be absorbed through skin. For this reason, baking soda baths are not recommended for some people. Avoid baking soda baths if you:

  • have a large or serious infection
  • have open wounds
  • have diabetes
  • have heart disease
  • are pregnant or nursing
  • are allergic to baking soda
  • are prone to fainting

Do not use baking soda on large areas of a baby’s sensitive skin. Baking soda is sometimes used for diaper rash, but this is not recommended.

Baking soda’s ability to disrupt the normal pH of skin may cause metabolic alkalosis. This condition occurs when the normal pH level of tissue is elevated above the normal range. There are safer ways to relieve diaper rash.

Baking soda can be used as a paste when combined with water or other ingredients, such as lemon juice or oil. Use one part baking soda to three parts water or other ingredient.

Baking soda can also be dissolved into bath water alone, or with dry, uncooked oatmeal. Do not use more than 2 cups of baking soda per bath.

Baking soda is an affordable, easy-to-find product that may help manage symptoms of some skin conditions, but it may not be safe for everyone. Talk to your dermatologist before using baking soda on the skin. They can help you determine if there are more effective treatments.