Can You Use Epsom Salts If You Have Diabetes?

Medically reviewed by Alan Carter, PharmD on April 11, 2016Written by Daniela Ginta on April 11, 2016

Foot damage and diabetes

If you have diabetes, you should be aware of foot damage as a potential complication. Foot damage is often caused by poor circulation and nerve damage. Both of these conditions can be caused by high blood sugar levels over time.

Taking good care of your feet can help lower your risk of foot damage. Although some people soak their feet in Epsom salt baths, this home remedy isn’t recommended for people with diabetes. Soaking your feet may raise your risk of foot problems. Talk to your doctor before soaking your feet in Epsom salts.

What is Epsom salt?

Epsom salt is also called magnesium sulphate. It’s a mineral compound that’s sometimes used as a home remedy for sore muscles, bruises, and splinters. In some cases, people add Epsom salt to baths or tubs to soak in.

If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor before soaking your feet in an Epsom salt bath. Soaking your feet may actually increase your risk of foot problems. It’s recommended that you wash your feet every day, but you shouldn’t soak them. Soaking can dry out your skin. This can cause cracks to form and lead to infections.

Some people may recommend Epsom salts as a magnesium supplement. Instead, you should look for magnesium supplements designed for oral use. Check the vitamin and supplement aisle at your local pharmacy. People with diabetes often have low levels of magnesium, a mineral that plays an important role in your body. Research suggests that oral magnesium supplements may help improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels in some people with diabetes.

Unless your doctor advises otherwise, avoid using Epsom salt footbaths. If you’re interested in oral magnesium supplements, ask your doctor for more information. They can help you assess the potential benefits and risks of taking them. They can also recommend a product and dosage amount.

6 tips for taking care of your feet

Most of us spend a lot of time on our feet. It’s essential to take good care of them, especially when you have diabetes. Here are six tips for keeping your feet healthy:

1. Check your feet daily

Check for cracks and signs of skin irritation. Treat any problems early. Your doctor will also inspect your feet during visits.

2. Wash your feet daily

Dry them afterward, and use lotion to keep your skin soft and supple. This can help prevent skin cracks.

3. Trim your toenails

This will help keep your toenails from poking your skin. You should also check your shoes before putting them on and remove any small objects that could scratch or poke your feet.

4. Avoid very hot and very cold environments

Nerve damage caused by diabetes can render your feet less sensitive to pain and temperature changes.

5. Buy proper footwear

Proper footwear allows for good circulation. Consider asking your podiatrist or specialized shoe store personnel for recommendations or tips.

6. Improve circulation

To help your feet maintain adequate circulation, get regular exercise, put your feet up while sitting, and avoid sitting in one place for too long. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, or follow your doctor’s physical activity recommendations.

If you notice signs of cracking, irritation, or a wound, clean the area well. Follow your doctor’s recommendations to prevent further complications. They may encourage you to apply an antibiotic cream or other treatments. This is especially important if you have nerve damage or serious circulatory issues.

Learn more: Find the right diabetic socks »

What you can do now

Your doctor will probably encourage you to avoid soaking your feet. This is because prolonged contact with water can dry out your skin. Unless your doctor provides other recommendations, you can follow this daily foot wash routine:

  1. Before washing or rinsing your feet, check the temperature of the water. Water that’s too warm can dry out your skin, and water that’s very hot can burn you.
  2. Use a natural soap without added fragrances or scrubbing agents. Clean all areas of your feet, including between your toes.
  3. Once your feet are clean, dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
  4. Gently massage fragrance-free lotion into your feet. Avoid putting lotion in between your toes, where excess moisture may cause the skin to become too soft or encourage fungal growth.

Fragrances and other chemicals may irritate and dry out your skin. Look for soaps, lotions, and other hygiene products that are free of added fragrances and other potential irritants.

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