September 29, 2023

Epsom Salt Bath Benefits

Bowl of Epsom Salt

People have taken Epsom salt baths for hundreds of years to ease muscle aches and soothe irritated skin. You may have known older relatives to use this home remedy for many ailments. But what is Epsom salt, and what does Epsom salt do? This article answers those and other questions about Epsom salt uses.

What Is Epsom Salt?

The first part of the name, “Epsom salt,” comes from the region in England where the material is found in natural springs. That’s why you’ll typically see the word capitalized. In this context, “salt” isn’t like the ingredient you add to recipes or sprinkle on foods. It refers to the chemical structure of the substance, an ionic compound. You can find Epsom salt (sometimes written as a plural — Epsom salts) at grocery stores or natural food stores. It’s very affordable, with a large box costing only a few dollars.

How Do Epsom Salts Work?

When you put Epsom salts in bathwater, they dissolve into magnesium and sulfate. Proponents of Epsom salt baths say your body absorbs these substances through your skin. Research hasn’t proven that claim. However, ample evidence shows that soaking in warm water relaxes tight and sore muscles and relieves joint stiffness and pain.

Many people believe that an Epsom salt bath can help with a wide variety of ailments, including:

  • Post-workout soreness
  • Tired, swollen feet after an active day
  • Arthritis symptoms like pain and swelling
  • Sprains and strains
  • Bruises
  • Sunburn
  • Itchy, scaly skin from psoriasis
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Muscle, tendon, and ligament pain caused by fibromyalgia
  • Mental/emotional stress
  • Insomnia
  • Soreness from chemotherapy-induced diarrhea

While there isn’t clinical evidence to support these claims, a warm Epsom salt bath doesn’t pose any risks for healthy people. If you have open wounds, skin infections, burns, or severe skin inflammation, you should talk with your doctor before taking an Epsom salt bath. You may also hear about people taking Epsom salt orally for various reasons, including constipation.

You should avoid this without first discussing it with your physician. Oral Epsom salt use can cause significant changes in bowel activity, leading to discomfort and potentially dehydration.

How To Take an Epsom Salt Bath

An Epsom salt bath, like any bath, should be warm but not hot. You should add the material while the water is running to help it dissolve.

Read the packaging regarding the recommended amount of Epsom salt to add, but 1 to 2 cups for a standard bathtub is typical. Once your bath is ready, sit back, relax, and submerge the affected body part(s) in the warm water for at least 10 minutes. Note: You should not use Epsom salt in a whirlpool, hot tub, or other jetted tub unless the manufacturer indicates you can.

Learn More About Epsom Salt Baths From Baptist Health

Epsom salt baths are generally safe and may help ease the symptoms of minor muscle, joint, and skin conditions. If you have questions about Epsom salts and your specific health conditions, your primary care doctor or sports medicine specialist can answer them.

Learn More.