Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes skin cells to build up and form scales and itchy, dry patches. It affects around 2% of people worldwide. While there is no cure for psoriasis, various treatments can help control symptoms. Some people find soaking in Epsom salts helpful as part of their psoriasis treatment plan.
What are Epsom salts?
Epsom salts are not actually salt, but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Some key facts about Epsom salts:
- The scientific name is magnesium sulfate heptahydrate.
- Magnesium sulfate crystals are extracted from mineral deposits and dissolved in water.
- Epsom salt baths were first discovered in Epsom, England, which is where the name originated.
- Magnesium and sulfate are both easily absorbed through the skin when dissolved in bath water.
Dissolving Epsom salts in bath water allows people to benefit from magnesium absorption through their skin. Many people choose to soak in Epsom salts because the magnesium helps with various health conditions.
What are the proposed benefits of Epsom salt baths?
Soaking in an Epsom salt bath is claimed to provide numerous health and beauty benefits. Some of the main reasons people take Epsom salt baths include:
- Relax muscles and reduce soreness – The magnesium in Epsom salts may help muscles relax, reduce swelling and relieve general aches and pains.
- Soothe skin irritation – The anti-inflammatory effect of Epsom salts may calm irritation, itchiness and redness.
- Exfoliate skin – Soaking flakiness away and removing dead skin buildup.
- Improve sleep quality – Magnesium plays a role in sleep regulation and stress management.
- Detoxify – Epsom salt baths may help the body flush out toxins.
For people with psoriasis, reducing inflammation, soothing itchy skin, removing scales and improving sleep are some of the most desirable benefits of Epsom salt baths.
How do Epsom salt baths help with psoriasis symptoms?
While Epsom salt baths are not a standalone treatment, they may provide several beneficial effects for managing psoriasis symptoms:
1. Reduce inflammation and scales
The magnesium absorbed from an Epsom salt bath has anti-inflammatory properties that may help calm inflammation associated with psoriasis plaques. Less inflammation can mean less redness, irritation and ability for scales to build up.
The exfoliating effect of soaking may also help remove some of the dead skin scales, allowing any medicated creams to better penetrate plaques.
2. Moisturize and improve skin barrier
Warm water can help hydrate and moisturize dry, flaky psoriasis lesions. The minerals may also support repairing the compromised skin barrier associated with psoriasis.
3. Soothe itching
Itching is one of the most bothersome psoriasis symptoms. The magnesium absorbed from an Epsom salt bath may block histamine receptors responsible for itchiness. The moisturizing effect can also temporarily relieve itchy skin.
4. Improve sleep
Getting adequate sleep is important for immune function and psoriasis control. Magnesium from an Epsom salt bath before bed may help you fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply and wake up less throughout the night.
5. Support treatment
Using Epsom salt baths in combination with medicated creams, gels, ointments, shampoos or other psoriasis treatments may enhance their effectiveness. Soaking before application can help open pores, exfoliate scales and allow for better absorption.
What’s the recommended Epsom salt bath recipe for psoriasis?
If you want to try using Epsom salt baths to help manage your psoriasis, here is a simple soak recipe to follow:
- 2 cups Epsom salt
- Warm bath water
- Essential oils (optional)
- Fill bathtub with warm water – as hot as comfortably possible.
- Add 2 cups of Epsom salt and stir until fully dissolved.
- Add a few drops of soothing essential oils like lavender, tea tree or eucalyptus (optional).
- Soak body for at least 15-20 minutes to allow magnesium absorption.
- Rinse off and pat skin dry.
- Immediately apply moisturizer while skin is still damp.
Aim for 2-3 Epsom salt baths per week. Make sure to stay well hydrated after soaking.
Are Epsom salt baths safe?
For most people, taking occasional Epsom salt baths is considered safe with a low risk of side effects. However, there are some precautions to keep in mind:
- Start with lower Epsom salt amounts (1/2-1 cup) to assess tolerance.
- Avoid getting water in eyes, nose or mouth as it may sting.
- Don’t soak open wounds or broken skin.
- Limit soaking time to 20 minutes or less.
- Rinse skin well after bathing.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water after.
- Check with your doctor first if you have cardiovascular issues, kidney disease or diabetes.
Pregnant women should also get medical approval before using Epsom salt baths, as magnesium sulfate is sometimes used therapeutically to induce labor.
While Epsom salt baths should not replace medications and other psoriasis treatments prescribed by your dermatologist, they may be a helpful complementary therapy. The proposed benefits of reducing inflammation, scaling, itching and irritation align with psoriasis symptom relief goals.
Most people can safely soak 2-3 times per week by adding some Epsom salts to a warm bath and soaking for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stay hydrated, rinse skin afterwards and apply moisturizer for optimal results. Check with your doctor first if you have any medical conditions or concerns.
Epsom salt baths are easy to add to your self-care routine and may help you better manage psoriasis flare-ups. Evaluate whether your symptoms seem to improve within a few weeks of starting routine soaking sessions.