People have bathed in the Dead Sea for therapeutic purposes for centuries. Today, people can purchase Dead Sea salt to use at home. A few studies suggest that this may be beneficial for eczema.
An older 2011 study involving 86 children with eczema found that topical cream enriched with Dead Sea minerals improved the function of the skin barrier. However, no larger-scale studies currently exist.
If a person wishes to try Dead Sea salt for eczema, they can purchase the salts to dissolve in baths or try topical products that contain the minerals.
Keep reading to learn more about how and why Dead Sea salt may help eczema, whether or not there are risks involved, and how to use it for this condition.
The Dead Sea is the lowest geographical spot in the world and the saltiest body of water on Earth. It has a long-standing reputation for having healing properties.
However, scientists are still trying to understand if, or how, it helps with different conditions.
Water from the Dead Sea contains many minerals, including:
It is possible to evaporate water from the Dead Sea to create salt, which contains these minerals. Some companies then use these salts in products such as bath salts, body lotions, and soaps. Other products contain Dead Sea mud.
There has been little research into whether or not Dead Sea salt is good for eczema. However, two studies indicate that it might be beneficial.
Dead Sea salt bathing
The study participants submerged one forearm in a water solution containing 5% Dead Sea salts for 15 minutes. They submerged the other arm in tap water.
The researchers assessed their skin quality at the beginning of the study as well as once per week over the course of 6 weeks. By the end of the study, they noted that those who had submerged their skin in Dead Sea salts had better skin hydration and reduced signs of roughness and inflammation.
Dead Sea salt cream
An older 2011 clinical trial tested the effects of a cream enriched with Dead Sea minerals on mild or moderate atopic dermatitis in children.
For the trial, the researchers sorted participants into three groups. All groups applied a cream to the whole body twice daily, in the morning and evening, for 12 weeks. However, each group used a cream with different ingredients:
- One cream was a simple emollient moisturizer with no ingredients from the Dead Sea.
- One cream contained Dead Sea water.
- One cream contained Dead Sea mud.
Of all the groups, the one using the cream containing Dead Sea water saw the best results. This cream had the most positive influence on the skin barrier over the whole 12 weeks. The other groups saw improvements, too, but they were not as significant.
Researchers believe that the potential benefits of Dead Sea salt for eczema are due to its mineral content.
The authors of the
A 2020 study also attributes the beneficial properties of Dead Sea salt to its high quantity of magnesium. The authors state that magnesium can:
- boost water retention in the skin
- reduce inflammation
- promote skin barrier integrity
Dead Sea salt also contains zinc, which is an ingredient in various skin healing creams due to its ability to help with wound healing.
The practice of bathing in mineral water is known as balneotherapy. Generally, this is safe and involves only minimal side effects. These can include:
- skin irritation
- exfoliative dermatitis, which refers to the shedding of the top skin layer
- low blood pressure and fainting with prolonged immersion
However, side effects may be less likely to occur if a person is using Dead Sea salts at home, as this allows them to control how concentrated and how hot the water is. Very salty or very hot water can be drying.
The Dead Sea contains a very high amount of salt, at around 34%. By contrast, the 2005 study only used a concentration of 5% and still observed a positive effect.
Some people should not practice balneotherapy. This includes people who have:
- a current atopic dermatitis flare-up
- weeping lesions
- blisters or ulcers
- open wounds
- skin infections
- acute arthritis or other acute inflammatory conditions
- pustular or erythrodermic psoriasis
- cardiovascular disease
- severe high or low blood pressure
- severe anemia
- an impaired sense of balance
- drug or alcohol intoxication
- a recent stroke or heart attack
People should always speak with a doctor before using any home remedies for eczema, as they are not suitable for everyone.
If a doctor says it is OK to try Dead Sea salt, there are several ways to do so. People can add the salt to a bath or use topical products that contain salt, water, or mud from the Dead Sea.
To use the salt in a bath:
- Run a bath of warm, but not hot, water. For balneotherapy, the water temperature is usually in the range of 86–104°F (30–40°C).
- Add 1 cup of Dead Sea salts to the water and allow them to dissolve.
- Get into the bath and stay in the water for a short time. The National Eczema Association recommends that people with eczema limit baths to 5–10 minutes.
- After leaving the bath, pat the skin dry with a clean towel. Try not to rub or scratch the eczema.
- Gently apply an emollient to the skin immediately afterward.
If a person only has eczema in one place on the body, such as the feet or hands, they can also use Dead Sea salts in a smaller bath that only targets those areas. A person should not apply the salt as a scrub, however, as this may make eczema-affected skin more inflamed.
Another option is to apply fragrance-free creams or lotions containing Dead Sea minerals to the skin. A person should do this after washing so that the cream stays on the skin for as long as possible.
In addition to Dead Sea salts, there are some other natural remedies that may help with eczema. These include:
- Colloidal oatmeal: People can add colloidal oatmeal to bathwater, which may help relieve itching. Alternatively, it is possible to make a paste and apply it to the skin as a treatment before washing it off.
- Vinegar: Vinegar straight from a bottle is much too harsh to use on the skin. However, diluted in a safe amount of water, vinegar can help kill bacteria. People can add 1 cup to 1 pint (236–568 milliliters) to a full bath.
- Coconut oil: Research suggests that coconut oil reduces the amount of Staphylococcus bacteria on the skin, which can reduce the chance of eczema becoming infected. To try this remedy, apply virgin or cold-pressed coconut oil once or twice per day to damp skin.
A few studies suggest that Dead Sea salt may help improve the function of the skin barrier and reduce the visible signs of eczema. The benefits may stem from minerals such as magnesium and zinc. However, more recent and large-scale studies are necessary to confirm this.
At present, there is no evidence to suggest that it works better than medical treatments, but people may find it a useful addition to their eczema treatment regimen.
Although Dead Sea salt is generally safe, it may not be appropriate for everyone. A person should check with a doctor before use.