Salt water bathing – an eczema parent’s guide
Parents who have watched their children suffer with eczema will know that any suggestions on relieving the itch and soothing their sore skin are worth considering.
The Nottingham Support Group for Carers of Children With Eczema wrote an interesting study on the possible benefits of salt water baths – there is a direct link at the end of this article. The main motivation behind the study was the anecdotal evidence from parents about improvements in atopic eczema after swimming in the sea.
Firstly, of course, it would be logical to assume that the ability of salt to pull water from tissue would result in very dry skin. Of course this is all down to how long you bathe for… don’t stay in salty water for hours on end!
On the plus side for eczema sufferers, the salt in sea water actually has antiseptic properties that can reduce the risk of infection. Infection around over scratched, broken skin is a common result of eczema, especially in young children who don’t have the ability to reason yet and therefore only want the immediate relief of the itch, however they manage it!
Furthermore, sea salt is packed with healthy skin-friendly minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Magnesium is an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial mineral that not only eases itching, but also draws the moisture from eczema-causing bacteria and fungi to hinder its development.
The minerals in sea water once absorbed by the skin can help keep it soft and moisturized. The salt-water has anti-inflammatory benefits as well, helping reduce swollen and painful skin while relieving itching.
Of course, there is a caveat. You’ve all heard the expression “pouring salt on an open wound” and there is no doubt that salt water bathing can make sensitive, damaged skin sting like crazy. In this case either reduce the amount of salt you use the next time or wait until the worst of a flare up is over before attempting it with your little one.
It is important to rinse with fresh water after a salt water bath to remove any residue and prevent that scratchy “beach” feeling when you put clothes or pyjamas back on them. Pat gently with a towel and apply any emollients as usual onto slightly damp skin.
Epsom salt and Dead Sea Salts are the best for salt water bathing – adding ordinary table salt to the bath will not have the same effect! Below are links to the original article and also a “recipe” for running a salt water bath. Let us know your experiences or thoughts!
How to prepare a salt water bath for eczema treatment
- Use 1 cup of Epsom salt or sea salt for a standard-size bathtub.
- Pour the salt into the warm running bath water and use your hand to stir the water to help dissolve all the grains. If the grains are large and you are bathing a young child it is advisable to dissolve them in hot water first and add them in that way.
- Soak in the tub for at least 20 minutes.