As anyone who’s ever struggled with eczema — the dry, flaky, inflamed patches that plague skin — knows, finding an eczema treatment that works for you can be all consuming. One woman in the U.K. found a potential “cure,” which you can find for $2 at the drugstore.
Vicky Worth, 31, has struggled with atopic dermatitis (the clinical name for eczema) since she was a baby. “I was given different medications and creams, but nothing worked,” she told The Express. “Throughout my 20’s my eczema affected me to the point that I wouldn’t go out,” she said. “I couldn’t wear makeup and on the odd times I did, taking it off was really painful. People would stare at me and I was often asked what was wrong with me. At work, one customer asked if I was a burns victim. Another told me I shouldn’t be working, as I looked contagious and complained to my manager.”
Through steroids and topical treatments, Worth continued to experience flare-ups and side effects, like swelling and burning, until finally a friend recommended she try bathing in Epsom salts — the kind you might use to soothe sore muscles after a particularly hard workout or encounter in a spa treatment.
“Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate,” Sejal Shah, founder of SmarterSkin Dermatology in New York City, tells Allure. “Magnesium is known for its anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties, so yes it can potentially heal skin.”
After a week of Epsom salt baths, Worth noticed a significant improvement. “My skin was less raw and itchy,” she said. She was so impressed that she even started using an Epsom salt shampoo and body wash from The Epsom Salts Company.
Technically, there’s no scientific evidence that this works (yet), though it is promising, according to Shah. “There is a small study that suggests that Dead Sea salt, also rich in magnesium, may help treat atopic dermatitis. Researchers found that bathing in Dead Sea salt significantly improved skin barrier function, hydration, and inflammation (indicated by roughness and redness) compared to plain water,” she says.
The results for Worth were dramatic. “My eczema has completely gone — not just on my face, but also on my head, neck, and my back,” she told Express. “The salts make my skin smooth too and don’t dry my skin out at all, unlike other natural products I have used.”
The bottom line? If you’re suffering from eczema, Epsom salts may be worth a try. “I would recommend salt baths but usually as an adjunct to other treatments such as moisturizers and gentle and other preventive measures,” says Shah.
If you’re looking to treat eczema naturally, oatmeal baths and milk compresses have also been shown to help, adds Shah. Or you can always do as Kim Kardashian does for her psoriasis and reach for the seaweed.
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