Salt baths: Your dry winter skin will thank you!

Happy New Year every­one! I hope every­one had a safe and rest­ful hol­i­day, and that 2012 brings you good health and hap­pi­ness.

As some of you know, I have always had a per­son­al his­tory of very dry, sens­it­ive skin, and as a res­ult, winter is not always a sea­son I look for­ward to with fond­ness as I know that the tight, itchy skin accom­pan­ies. This winter is a par­tic­u­larly dry one, and while I am sure most of you are mois­tur­iz­ing like crazy right now and turn­ing on humid­i­fi­ers in your bed­rooms at night, it occurred to me that many of you might not know about the sim­pli­city of a bath in help­ing your skin.

Sea salt as a tool for heal­ing the skin has been known about through­out his­tory, and is a long-stand­ing treat­ment for skin dis­orders. The Dead Sea spe­cific­ally and the high con­cen­tra­tion of salt in it allow­ing you to float on its sur­face has often been used to heal the skin (in addi­tion to many oth­er con­di­tions).

What about sea salt is so beneficial?

Recent research sug­gests that sea salt with a high­er pro­por­tion of mag­nesi­um actu­ally helps to restore mois­ture to the skin sur­face. A group of patients with atop­ic dermatit­is sub­merged one fore­arm with reg­u­lar water and the oth­er with Dead Sea salt high in mag­nesi­um, and over the peri­od it was notice­able that the arm sub­merged in sea salt had a high­er mois­ture reten­tion, reduced inflam­ma­tion, and improved skin bar­ri­er com­pared to the arm in nor­mal water. So, get­ting away to the sea and going away for a vaca­tion to the sun and salt water in the winter is now mak­ing more sense, yes?

Making your sea salt getaway in the tub at home

  1. Make sure it is sea salt (this may also be salt from the dead sea if you can get!). Sea salt can be found at most phar­ma­cies in large stones, in a bag for 5 dol­lars. Epsom salts or mag­nesi­um salts will really sting raw or dry skin are not the same as mag­nesi­um-rich Dead Sea Salt, so avoid epsom salts for open sores and go with sea salts which will sting tem­por­ar­ily but will heal long-term and you will feel very soft after your bath!
  2. Dissolve 2 cups of sea salt in hot water and let dis­solve in a sep­ar­ate bowl before adding to your bath. (you may need to pour off the sat­ur­ated salt water and refill the bowl to fully dis­solve all the salt)
  3. Add the mixed salty water to your bath. The water should taste a little salty, but not so much that it is sting­ing. Enjoy for 30 minutes, bring a book, listen to music, light a candle (hope­fully in a glass con­tain­er away from the water!)
  4. After 30 minutes and you are ready to get out of the tub, you can rinse off a bit of the salt in luke­warm water, but very briefly as you do not want to elim­in­ate the bene­fits you have just received!
  5. Pat your­self dry and cov­er your damp skin with mois­tur­izer imme­di­ately. You want to trap the water into your skin sur­face and pro­tect that with a good mois­tur­izer.

References

Proksch E 
Nissen HP
Bremgartner M
Urquhart C. Bathing in a mag­nesi­um-rich Dead Sea salt solu­tion improves skin bar­ri­er func­tion, enhances skin hydra­tion, and reduces inflam­ma­tion in atop­ic, dry skin.
Int J Dermatol. 2005 Feb;44(2):151 – 7.

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