Published on | by redblob1
How Soaking in Epsom Salt Can Soothe Your Psoriasis
There’s nothing like a good soak when you’re in the middle of a flare-up – especially when Epsom salts are involved. It’s like going from the Thing in Fantastic Four to something halfway human.
I’ve used them for years, but they came into their own recently when I went on a two week holiday to Perth.
I was drinking a bottle of red a day (Swan Valley wine is great!), eating junk and generally pigging out. Not unreasonably, my psoriasis threw a massive hissy fit and the patches on my elbows and arms flared up bad.
That’s when I turned to Epsom salts… I bought some from a local chemist and stayed in the tub that evening until the water turned cold and my skin wrinkled up like an old prune.
But the result was worth it. The next day I had barely any skin crust, and I could actually wear a t-shirt without worrying too much about scaring away Aussies. Here’s why Epsom salts are so good for us.
A quick Epsom salt 101
Epsom salt is a ‘hydrated’ salt made from magnesium, sulphur and oxygen with a couple of water molecules thrown in (the formula is MgSO4(H2O)7). It gets its name from Epsom, a little town southwest of London that became known for its healing mineral waters way back in the 16th century, when Shakespeare was writing up a storm.
The story goes that, in 1618, a farmer noticed his cows were not too happy with the bitter water on his farm. He investigated further and saw that, despite its taste, it was having a profound affect on their skin and rashes. The news spread faster than a psoriasis outbreak and soon people were swarming from all over England for his miraculous Epsom salt water.
Epsom salts have many medicinal uses. Athletes soak in them to relieve muscle pain, people who haven’t pooped in yonks use them to loosen things up down there, and, most importantly, people with skin conditions use them to get much-needed relief. Epsom salt has so many uses in fact, it is listed as an Essential Medicine by the WHO.
Six reasons why Epsom salts are good for Psoriasis
Epsom salts are fantastic for soothing irritated skin for a number of reasons.
1. Magnesium sulfate reduces inflammation and can be easily absorbed through the skin. It lowers inflammation both systemically, inside the body and topically, on the skin.
2. Epsom salt is a godsend when it comes to exfoliation. As you soak, the salt softly lifts all those layers of crusty dead skin to reveal the shiny new skin underneath. You feel as smooth as butter afterwards.
3. It restores the skin barrier. In psoriasis, the outermost layer of skin is normally damaged, leading your body to pump-out immune cells in an attempt to repair the skin and stop toxins and microbes from setting up home. Epsom salts can restore and strengthen this barrier.
4. Epsom salt is great for detoxifying the body and pulling out foreign substances that can irritate skin. Firstly, the sulfate molecules attract heavy metals which can aggravate your skin. Secondly, it it hygroscopic, meaning it draws in moisture from the skin surface, helping to control any overgrowth of bacteria or fungus.
5. It relieves stress. This is because magnesium helps to reduce cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’) and calm the nervous system, which are all good for reducing inflammation in autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis.
4. Epsom salt controls the activity of over 325 enzymes that help to regulate nerve and muscle function, which is good for better all-round health.
How many cups should you use?
I use 2 full cups of Epsom salt in a bath that has been filled three quarters of the way up. You might want to increase the concentration by using three cups if you have a flare-up.
Magnesium sulfate is better absorbed at higher temperatures, so make the water as hot as you can stand it, ease in and then try to increase the temperature as your body gets accustomed to it.
After that, lie back and enjoy! The time you spend in the bath should be at least 20 minutes according to most reports, but I have worked up to 40 minutes to 1 hour.
Its quite normal to feel a bit faint or light-headed, so remember to take a jug of water to cool off, or place a cool washcloth on your head.
The other thing to keep in mind is to take extra care if you have high blood pressure or feel super weak, in which case consider lowering the temperature or spending less time in the tub.
Not all Epsom salt is created equal
Epsom salt can be bought at supermarkets, pharmacies and even your local DIY, garden or farming stores, where its sold for agricultural purposes. To make sure its safe, you should buy the pharmaceutical grade type that has a ‘drug facts’ label or says ‘USP’ on the bag.
The Epsoak one comes in a massive bulk bag that comes in at 19lb (nearly 9 kilos), which I would say is enough for around 20 baths if you use a good amount. You can tell when you open the bag that it’s premium quality by the grains of Epsom salt. They’re all medium grain size, which helps it to dissolve quickly, and are unscented and free from any additives.
Next is Dr Teals. This is the special kind that I use for those occasions when I need a relaxing soak to fall asleep. It comes in two bags that measure up to 6lb in total (around 3kg) and the Epsom salt is infused with lavender essential oils. Its the perfect option if you want to have a quick soak in the evening before passing out like a log.
What do other flakers say?
Here are some testimonials of fellow flakers who went down the Epsom salt road:
SarahRM: “I had a sudden outbreak of psoriasis – within less than 24 hours I was itching from head to ankles. I immediately sent for the old tried and true remedy – Epsom salts. These certainly deserve their top quality rating and popularity. What a relief, even after the very first bath.”
K Berry, always : “I have small areas of psoriasis on both knees and both elbows. Nightly soaks in the tub do wonders to help with the itching and scales, and such soaks also help dramatically with my arthritis pain.”