Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) is a water-soluble chemical compound with specific medicinal and therapeutic uses in alternative medicine. Alternative medicine experts recommend Epsom salt baths for pain relief, muscle relaxation, and mind and body rejuvenation. However, limited research is available to demonstrate these effects.
Considerable anecdotal evidence suggests that Epsom salt baths under expert guidance may help treat and manage several ailments. If you intend to try Epsom salt bath for your baby, ascertain its safety and make an informed choice.
This post answers all your questions about Epsom salt bath, its potential benefits for your baby, and precautions to take while using Epsom salt for babies.
Is Epsom Salt Bath Safe For Babies?
When done appropriately under expert guidance, Epsom salt bath is likely safe for babies. However, like any other substance, improper use or overuse of Epsom salt can have potential adverse effects. Thus, it is crucial to consult a certified alternative medicine expert or practitioner before trying an Epsom salt bath for babies.
An expert can guide you on the right quantity of Epsom salt needed as per the intent of use, your baby’s age, and your baby’s health. They can also suggest trustworthy brands of pure Epsom salt that are likely to be safer for babies.
How Does Epsom Salt Bath Work?
When Epsom salt dissolves in water, it releases magnesium and sulfate ions. Theoretically, soaking in this water causes the skin to absorb the magnesium and sulfate ions. It is this absorption that is believed to benefit the body.
Although clinical studies researching the transdermal absorption of magnesium and sulfur have been inconclusive (1), anecdotal evidence suggests that Epsom salt could offer some benefits when used under expert guidance.
Possible Benefits Of Epsom Salt For Babies
The correct use of Epsom salt under expert guidance may provide the following benefits to the baby.
- Skin exfoliation: Bathing with Epsom salt can exfoliate the skin, that is, remove the dead skin cells (2). Removal of dead skin cells improves the skin’s texture and improves its appearance.
- Anti-itch or antipruritic: Using Epsom salt compression or bathing in Epsom salt water is a common home remedy for alleviating itching due to sunburn, swimmer’s itch, bug bite, and skin rashes (3) (4). Diaper rash, psoriasis, and eczema are other skin conditions where Epsom salt bath is sometimes recommended to relieve itching.
- Muscle relaxation and pain relief: Epsom salt may promote blood flow by vasodilation (widening of blood vessels), which helps relax the muscles. It also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that could reduce swelling and alleviate aches and cramps (5) (6). However, more research is needed to ascertain these effects.
- Sound sleep: Naturopathy practitioners use Epsom salt bath to relax the mind and the body and promote sleep. Magnesium in Epsom salt is believed to stimulate the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. However, these effects are not clinically proven.
Most of these benefits are researched among adults, and it is not known if they apply to babies as well.
How To Prepare Epsom Salt Water For Bath?
You can make the bath by dissolving a specific quantity of Epsom salt in warm water. The quantity of Epsom salt required varies as per the purpose of the bath and other factors, such as the baby’s age and health.
Usually, two cups of Epsom salt dissolved in a standard-size bathtub are recommended for soaking the baby. The quantity will change if you intend to soak a part of the body. For instance, if you wish to soak a baby’s feet for toenail removal aftercare, you will need two teaspoons of Epsom salt dissolved in two quarts (0.5 gallon) of warm water (7).
Thus, consult a pediatrician or an alternative medicine expert to determine the appropriate dilution ratio.
Precautions To Take While Using Epsom Salt For Babies
Although Epsom salt baths are likely safe for babies, following some precautions can ensure your baby’s safety. Here are some steps you should take while using Epsom salt in the bath for babies (8).
- Buy 100 percent pure Epsom salt from a trusted and reputable brand. Using impure Epsom salt could increase the risk of allergies and intoxication due to adulteration.
- Read the ingredients and product label carefully. It will help you know the additives, such as artificial color and fragrance, which can irritate the baby’s sensitive skin.
- Adhere to the salt to water ratio recommended by the doctor. The ratio may vary based on the intent of use, baby’s age, and health conditions. Ensure the salt is properly dissolved in water before soaking your baby in it.
- Never leave your baby unattended while soaking in Epsom salt baths. Accidental ingestion of Epsom salt by the baby could have adverse effects. Typically, soaking in Epsom salt water for at least 15 to 20 minutes is advised to reap Epsom salt’s benefits.
- Monitor your baby’s body temperature and general reaction when you soak them in Epsom salt bath. If the baby looks uneasy or uncomfortable, remove them from the bathtub immediately.
- Stay alert to the signs of Epsom salt allergy or magnesium or sulfate sensitivity. Some common signs of Epsom salt allergy are skin irritation, extreme itching, and contact dermatitis. To know if your baby is allergic to Epsom salt, do a rub test.
- Perform a rub test by rubbing a few drops of Epsom salt solution at the back of your infant’s hand. If you notice a reaction, do not use Epsom salt for your baby, at least until you talk to your doctor to ascertain the cause of the response.
- Do not go overboard with Epsom salt baths. It applies to both the number of times you bathe the baby and the total time you bathe the baby in each session. Oversoaking can dry the baby’s skin and cause overdose symptoms, such as flushing, nausea, headache, slow heart rate, and extreme drowsiness. Typically, soaking in Epsom salt water for 15 to 20 minutes is advised to reap Epsom salt’s benefits.
- Do not use Epsom salt for oral use to treat health problems, such as constipation, in babies. Although Epsom salt acts as a laxative, its use in babies is not advisable. When used without medical guidance, it can have detrimental effects.
- Store Epsom salt at room temperature, away from heat and moisture, to retain its quality and efficacy. Keep it out of the reach of toddlers to prevent accidental ingestion.
Epsom salt bath for babies is likely safe and may be beneficial when used as directed by an expert. If your baby has a medical condition or is susceptible to allergies, consult a pediatrician before using Epsom salt.
You can prepare an Epsom salt bath by dissolving the salt in water as per the instructions. Full-body soaking or soaking a particular body part are two common ways Epsom salt baths can be used for babies. For safe use, never leave your baby unattended while bathing, and stay alert to any signs of allergy.
2. T G Polefka et al.; Interaction of mineral salts with the skin: A literature survey; Researchgate
3. Uses and benefits of Epsom salt; Epsom Salt Council
4. 12 Common Summertime Skin Rashes in Children; Healthy Children; AAP
5. Walaa Fikry Elbossaty; Pharmaceutical Influences of Epsom Salts; Semantic Scholars
6. Shilpa Parag Satralkar and Basvant Dhudum; Effectiveness of Application of Warm Compress with Epsom Salt to Reduce Knee Joint Among Women; International Journal of Science and Research
7. Care after toenail removal; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
8. Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt); University of Michigan