- Despite little scientific evidence to support it, many people with psoriasis use Epsom salt baths or Dead Sea salt baths to help manage skin symptoms.
- Soaking in a salt bath may help soften scales and relieve psoriasis itch.
- The magnesium in the salt is what’s thought to benefit psoriasis skin.
Dissolving Epsom salt into a bath is a common remedy to soothe sore muscles and a popular way to relax after a long day. Epsom salt, also called magnesium sulfate, is a chemical compound made up of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen.
People with psoriasis may also turn to Epsom salt baths or Dead Sea salt baths to help soften skin scales and reduce itchiness.
Though Epsom salts have long been used as a traditional remedy, there’s little scientific data to backup claims that they have medicinal benefits. These benefits are anecdotally thought to come from the magnesium in the salt.
Some studies do support the use of Dead Sea salt remedies, on the other hand, which also contain magnesium.
Regardless of whether Epsom salts are scientifically proven to work, this therapy may provide relief for those looking for new ways to manage psoriasis symptoms.
To make an Epsom salt bath, add about 2 cups of Epsom salt to a tub of warm water. But before you start running the bath, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
People with psoriasis often experience skin irritation after showers or baths. To avoid this, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends bathing in warm — not hot — water and soaking for no longer than 15 minutes.
When you’re done soaking, rinse off and pat your skin dry. Then apply a moisturizer right away to help hydrate your skin.
Scalp psoriasis can be a challenge to treat at home because hair can get in the way of your skin. According to the AAD, you can take a few steps to avoid making scalp psoriasis worse:
- Don’t scratch, rub, or scrub your scalp, even when shampooing.
- Remove scales gently, using a scale softener.
- Avoid stress, which can worsen psoriasis.
- Follow your prescribed scalp psoriasis treatment plan.
Epsom salt baths may help relieve stress. Soaking your scalp in water with Epsom salts may also help soften scales and relieve itchiness — just make sure to avoid scrubbing your scalp.
Hand psoriasis can bring on serious challenges when compared with psoriasis that affects other areas of your body.
The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) reported on a 2018 study that found that people with hand and foot psoriasis were twice as likely to have mobility issues and were two-and-a-half times more likely to experience challenges with daily activities.
- light therapy
- coal tar
- biologic medications
Many people use Epsom salts to relieve muscle tension. Epsom salt baths may help relieve pain from hand joints in related conditions like psoriatic arthritis.
It’s important for people with hand psoriasis to take steps to protect their skin — even a small injury can trigger a flare.
Before using Epsom salts as a scrub or even as a soak, talk with your dermatologist. They can provide specific guidance on how to prevent injury and irritation with hand psoriasis.
According to the NPF, baths with Epsom salts, Dead Sea salts, oil, or oatmeal may help remove psoriasis scales and soothe itchy skin.
Remember to take warm, short baths; rinse and pat your skin dry; and follow up with moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.
Stress can trigger a psoriasis flare. It often leads to a cyclical pattern where stress causes flares, then the flare itself compounds stress.
Taking steps to reduce stress is one way to prevent and manage flares.
Aside from any skin benefits, soaking in an Epsom salt bath may help promote relaxation and contribute to feelings of calm, helping to disrupt this stress-psoriasis cycle.
Many people use Epsom salt scrubs to exfoliate and remove dead skin.
But for those with psoriasis, using an Epsom salt scrub may irritate sensitive skin and trigger a flare. For that reason, people with psoriasis are often advised to avoid exfoliating scrubs.
Before using a salt scrub, talk with your dermatologist. If it’s deemed safe for you to try, you can make it yourself at home.
Combine 1 1/3 cups Epsom salts with 2/3 cup melted coconut, almond, or olive oil. With your dermatologist’s approval, you can also add essential oils for a soothing scent.
An older 2005 study suggested that bathing in Dead Sea salt solution improved skin barrier function and hydration and reduced inflammation in people with dry skin. The study authors attribute this result to the Dead Sea salts being rich in magnesium.
A 2012 review of studies found that Dead Sea treatments do benefit psoriasis. The authors of this review credit ultraviolet radiation in the Dead Sea plus Dead Sea water balneotherapy (bathing in mineral water) for these skin improvements.
In a 2019 survey of the use of complementary and alternative medicine in people with psoriasis, 17 percent of male respondents and 7.8 percent of female respondents reported using Dead Sea salts to successfully help manage their condition.
By comparison, there’s not much research on Epsom salts for psoriasis.
While there’s limited scientific evidence to support it, some people with psoriasis find relief from soaking in an Epsom salt bath or Dead Sea salt bath. These therapies may help make scales softer and relieve itchy skin.
Other uses for Epsom salts, such as body scrubs, should be used with caution, as they may irritate psoriasis.