10 Surprising Benefits of an Epsom Salt Bath
That drugstore staple does more than just make a nice bath-time soak. See what an Epsom salt bath can do for you.
Why are Epsom salt baths so popular?
People swear by Epsom salt baths for their relaxing and soothing effects. Although some people consider them a trendy alternative for pain management, too, the jury is still out on how effective Epsom salt baths are—and how they work. If you’re dealing with any of the following issues, however, soaking in an Epsom salt bath won’t hurt and could offer some relief, according to anecdotal evidence. Here are the potential benefits.
An Epsom salt bath may ease your aches and pains
One of the most popular uses of an Epsom salt bath is to help soothe away muscle aches after a hard workout or a long day of work. Some believe that the chemical composition of the salt—magnesium sulfate—can be absorbed by the skin to help block receptors from feeling the pain. While it is true that taking magnesium blocks pain receptors, it’s not as clear if sitting in a bath is as effective, says Amy Baxter, MD, founder and CEO of MMJ Labs, and clinical associate professor with the Medical College of Georgia. So it may be the magnesium helping or it may just be the warm, relaxing bath. Either way, we’ll take it.
It may help soothe arthritis
Epsom salts can be used as a compress to help soothe aching joints. People with rheumatoid arthritis who soaked their joints in warm bath salts felt better while a control group that used plain saltwater saw no change, according to a study published in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology. To try this at home, heat two cups of Epsom salts in a gallon of water. Then you can either bathe the affected joint in it or apply a warm compress to the area. Try a few of these other arthritis home remedies.
An Epsom salt bath may soothe eczemaben bryant/Shutterstock
The National Eczema Association recommends a number of different types of baths—including one with Epsom salt—to help take the sting out of the bath and soothe the dry, itchy patches. A 2005 study from the International Journal of Dermatology found that magnesium salts can reduce inflammation and aid dry skin. Find out if your itchy skin is caused by eczema—or something else.
Epsom salts can make splinters easier to remove
Got a splinter? Soaking the area in an Epsom salt bath for 15 minutes can help make it easier to remove, according to the Epsom Salt Council. Epsom salt increases osmotic pressure on the skin, which draws foreign bodies toward the surface, they explain. Find out other first aid tips you need to know.
Try Epsom salts as an exfoliant
Just like other granular salts, Epsom salts can make a pretty great exfoliant, helping to slough off dry skin, according to the Epsom Salt Council. Mix a couple of tablespoons with 1/4 cup coconut oil and use it to scrub away dead skin anywhere on your body, from your lips to your toes.
Sunburn pain can be minimized
Soaking in an Epsom salt bath may help ease the sting of a sunburn. Add two cups of Epsom salt to lukewarm water and soak away to lessen the pain of the burn—the anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce swelling, according to the Epsom Salt Council. Need more ideas for sunburn relief? Try these unexpected home sunburn soothers.
Epsom salts can work as a laxative
All backed up in the bathroom? Drinking Epsom salts has a “potent laxative effect,” according to a study published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. Dissolve two to six teaspoons of the salts into eight ounces of warm water and a squeeze of lemon to improve the taste. Still feeling stuck? Try one of these other home remedies for constipation.
Try Epsom salts to open your sinusesYury Stroykin/Shutterstock
Taz Bhatia, MD, an integrative medicine doctor, swears by inhaling the steam from boiling water infused with Epsom salts, rosemary, and eucalyptus to help clear away congestion. Just make sure to keep an appropriate distance so you won’t accidentally scorch your sinuses in the process.
You can help head off athlete’s foot with Epsom salt baths
Soaking your feet in an Epsom salt bath can help prevent and treat the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, says Ray Sahelian, MD, nutrition expert. “The Epsom salt acts as a drying agent,” he explains. Try these 11 natural treatments for athlete’s foot.
An Epsom salt bath can help ease psoriasis
Dario Lo Presti/Shutterstock
Epsom salt is one of the natural remedies recommended by the National Psoriasis Association for dealing with the painful, itchy plaques and may help remove scales. Just be sure to moisturize afterward as the salts can be very drying and dry skin can make psoriasis worse, they add. You’ll want to know these other home remedies for psoriasis.
- Amy Baxter, MD, founder and CEO of MMJ Labs, and clinical associate professor with the Medical College of Georgia.
- Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology: “Dead Sea bath salts for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.”
- National Eczema Association: “Eczema and bathing.”
- Epsom Salt Council: “Epsom Salt Health Uses & Benefits.”
- Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology: “Current management strategies and therapeutic targets in chronic constipation.”
- Taz Bhatia, MD, an integrative medicine doctor.
- Ray Sahelian, MD, nutrition expert.
- National Psoriasis Foundation: “Herbs and natural remedies.”