Epsom salt baths are a popular way to relax and unwind after a long day. They are known for their ability to soothe the skin, reduce soreness and pain, aid in exercise and athletic performance recovery, reduce stress and aid sleep, promote foot health, and even draw out splinters. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of taking an Epsom salt bath and why it works.
What are Epsom salts?
Epsom salt is not related to table salt (sodium chloride). It is a naturally occurring mineral compound known as magnesium sulfate. They were first discovered in Epsom, England, in the 17th century. Magnesium sulfate is made up of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. (1)
How do Epsom salts work?
When Epsom salts are added to warm bath water, they dissolve and release magnesium and sulfate ions. These ions can be absorbed through the skin, which can help to increase magnesium levels in the body. Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, energy production, and blood pressure regulation.
Reasons To Take An Epsom Salt Bath
A quick search online will reveal many claims about Epsom salts and the benefits of taking Epsom salt baths. Not all of these are backed up by science, however. These are some benefits to taking an Epsom salts bath that are truly legitimate.
Epsom salt baths are known for their ability to soothe the skin. They can soften rough, dry skin, and help to exfoliate dead skin cells. The magnesium in Epsom salts can help to reduce inflammation and irritation, while the sulfate can help to flush out toxins from the skin. This can be especially beneficial for those with skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. It is important, however, that those with preexisting skin conditions speak to their dermatologist first before taking an Epsom salts bath. (2)
Reduce soreness and pain
Epsom salt baths are also known for their ability to reduce soreness and pain. The magnesium in Epsom salts can help relax muscles and reduce inflammation, which can benefit those with sore muscles or joint pain. Taking an Epsom salt bath has proven to benefit people with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, and gout.
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Exercise and athletic performance recovery
Epsom salt baths can also be beneficial for exercise and athletic performance recovery. It is thought that the magnesium in Epsom salts can help to reduce muscle soreness and aid in muscle recovery after exercise. The actual ability of our bodies to absorb magnesium through the skin is not well-researched. At this point, the act of relaxing in a warm bath seems to provide the benefit.
Reduce stress and aid sleep
Epsom salt baths can be a great way to reduce stress and aid in sleep. The magnesium in Epsom salts can help promote relaxation and calmness, which can benefit those with anxiety or trouble sleeping. Again, if you’re looking for magnesium absorption, you are better off taking a supplement. However, relaxing in a warm bath at the end of the day can help you relax, effectively reducing your stress levels and helping you sleep at night.
Promote foot health
Epsom salt baths can also be beneficial for foot health. This is specifically when referring to conditions such as athlete’s foot and infections from ingrown toenails. A bath with these salts or a foot soak can help relieve and heal these conditions faster. Note that this is not a replacement for other treatments for these conditions. Rather, it is a supplement to whatever treatment your medical provider has given you already.
Draw out splinters
Epsom salt baths can even help to draw out splinters. The magnesium sulfate in Epsom salts can help reduce inflammation and soften the skin, making it easier to remove a splinter. The soaking will also soften the splinter, also making it easier to remove. (3)
How to take an Epsom salt bath
To take an Epsom salt bath, simply add 1-2 cups of Epsom salts to warm bath water and soak for at least 20 minutes. You can also add essential oils or other bath salts for added benefits. Only purchase Epsom salt that has USP on the label, which means it has been tested for human use, according to standards set by the United States Food and Drug Association (FDA).
The Bottom Line
Epsom salt baths can be a great way to relax and unwind while also reaping numerous health benefits. Whether you are looking to soothe sore muscles, reduce stress, or promote foot health, an Epsom salt bath may be just what you need. So go ahead and treat yourself to a relaxing soak!
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- “Should You Take an Epsom Salt Bath?” Cleveland Clinic. April 28, 2022.
- “9 DIY Home Remedies for a Splinter.” Mountain Peaks Family Practice. May 11, 2016.