Epsom salt is a magnesium and sulfate compound derived from distilled, mineral-rich water. It’s commonly dissolved in warm water to be used as a home remedy for aching joints and muscles and for skin conditions, such as
The most common method used with Epsom salt is soaking in a tub. Iowa’s Central College suggests making an Epsom salt bath by dissolving 1 to 2 cups (300 to 600 grams) of Epsom salts into a bathtub filled with warm water.
Although there’s anecdotal use of Epsom salt baths to relieve the symptoms of eczema, it’s not yet been scientifically proven. A 2017 review of research concluded that the topical application of Epsom salt requires larger and more methodical studies.
It’s unclear if symptom relief comes from the Epsom salt, warm water, or if the bath simply has a placebo effect. That being said, baths — including Epsom salt baths — can be soothing and relaxing.
To combat flares and dry skin, the National Eczema Association suggests following these bathing steps:
- Soak for 5 to 10 minutes in lukewarm, never hot, water.
- Use a gentle cleanser free of dyes and fragrances. Avoid soap or waterless antibacterial cleansers.
- Use a soft towel to pat yourself almost dry, leave your skin slightly damp.
- If you have a prescription topical medication, apply it after patting yourself dry.
- Moisturize your entire body within 3 minutes of getting out of the tub. Use moisturizer with a high oil content but without fragrance or dye.
- Before putting on clothes, wait a few minutes so the moisturizer can be absorbed. Consider doing this right before bed to allow your skin to maintain its moisture.
Although there’s no hard science behind Epsom salt baths, they could be a positive experience for you. Other items you can try adding to your bath include:
- baking soda or colloidal oatmeal, traditionally for relieving itch
- bath oil, traditionally for moisturizing
- bleach or vinegar, traditionally for limiting bacteria
- table salt or sea salt, traditionally for easing itching and redness
Another bath additive to think about is Dead Sea salt. A 2005 study showed that bathing in a Dead Sea salt solution, compared with regular tap water, significantly improved skin barrier function, enhanced skin hydration, and reduced skin roughness and redness.