Using Dead Sea Salts to Manage Psoriasis

Potential Health Benefits, What to Look for, and How to Use

The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordering Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank, and considered the most saline lake on Earth. The waters of the Dead Sea are said to be 10 times saltier than the oceans. Since ancient times, the Dead Sea has been the place to go for people with skin conditions like psoriasis.

People who have been lucky enough to soak in the Dead Sea have reported smoother and more hydrated skin and less inflammation. This claimed healing power explains why Dead Sea salts are a popular and helpful treatment for psoriasis.

Here is what you need to know about Dead Sea salts, why they are so popular, benefits they may offer to people with psoriasis and research behind these, and how to use Dead Sea salts effectively and safely.

bath salt
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What Are Dead Sea Salts?

Salts from the Dead Sea contain minerals that can improve the health and appearance of skin, hair, and nails. There have been numerous studies validating a connection between Dead Sea salt and the healing of skin diseases, including psoriasis.

Being the saltiest lake in the world, dead sea salt contains up to 10 times more minerals than normal sea salt. These minerals are said to be helpful in cleaning, detoxifying, and restoring the body, especially the skin and muscles.

Some minerals found in Dead Sea salts that may promote skin health include:

Magnesium: Magnesium is great for detoxifying and cleansing the skin. It can promote cell metabolism and heal damaged and inflamed skin.

Calcium: Calcium may help promote skin growth and regeneration, retain skin’s moisture, and stimulate the production of antioxidants. Antioxidants can protect skin and slow down free radical production. Free radicals are known for damaging healthy skin, while antioxidants help the skin to protect itself. 

Zinc: Zinc, much like the other minerals in Dead Sea salt, can help to heal and rejuvenate skin and protect the cells involved in creating collagen, the protein that offers structure to much of the body, including bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin.

Sulfur: Sulfur is known for its powerful healing powers and antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties.

Potassium: Potassium can keep the skin moist and reduce skin puffiness.

Bromide: Bromide is known for soothing skin, relaxing the muscles, and calming nerves.

These minerals can penetrate deep into the skin offering prolonged benefits, including moisturizing effects. And because of this mineral-rich composition, Dead Sea salts have become famous for their healing properties, especially for the healing effect they have on skin conditions like psoriasis. 

Health Benefits in Psoriasis

Not everyone can visit the Dead Sea to soak in its waters and reap its psoriasis-relief benefits. However, it is still possible to get a similar effect using various products made from the salts of the Dead Sea.

Some benefits of using Dead Sea skin products for psoriasis include:

Exfoliation: Dead Sea salts are grainy, and they are loaded with calcium and sodium. That makes them perfect for removing thick dead skin and grime and bacteria that might be in the scales of dead skin.

Anti-inflammatory benefits: The red, flakey plaques and joint pain associated with psoriasis are a result of ongoing inflammation. And an important health benefit of Dead Sea salts is that they are rich in anti-inflammatory agents, including zinc and bromide. This means they can help with reducing inflammation throughout the body.

The anti-inflammatory properties of these salts may also promote blood circulation to infuse fresh oxygen throughout skin cells to lower the inflammation responsible for skin pain, redness, itching, and other psoriasis skin symptoms.

Moisturizing effect: Magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium in Dead sea salt can promote moisture in the skin. This is important because dry skin is more susceptible to psoriasis breakouts.

Skin permeability: The minerals present in Dead Sea salts make the skin more permeable, allowing skin creams and moisturizers to penetrate the deeper layers of skin more effectively.

Bacteria and fungi killer: Bacteria and fungi are responsible for many of the skin problems associated with psoriasis. But the minerals in Dead Sea salts can create an environment where it is harder for these harmful substances to live.

Talk to Your Healthcare Provider

Talk to your healthcare provider before using Dead Sea salts for treating psoriasis, especially if you are taking prescription medicines. This is especially important if you have severe symptoms of psoriasis. Your healthcare provider is in the best position to help you decide what skin products are best for managing your condition.

What the Research Says

One study reported in 2010 on synchronous balneophototherapy (sBPT)—a therapy that includes phototherapy and also simulates treatment conditions at the Dead Sea (usually a spa setting)­­—aimed to determine how effective this treatment was for psoriasis, especially in comparison to ultraviolet B phototherapy alone.

What the researchers found was that in routine clinical practice, sBPT was actually more effective than phototherapy alone with about 35 treatments, and results were sustained at a follow up of six months. Additionally, both therapies were considered safe options for treating psoriasis.

A systemic review from 2012 found the water from the Dead Sea is helpful for psoriasis and other rheumatic conditions, including psoriatic arthritis, a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects some people living with psoriasis. Additionally, Dead Sea saltwater is considered is a safe complementary treatment.

A 2017 report in the Journal of Education and Health reports on the use of Dead Sea salts for psoriasis and other skin conditions. The report reviewed several studies on the use of balneotherapy (bathing in Dead Sea salts) to treat psoriasis and other dermatological disorders and found balneotherapy to have high success rates.

Another 2017 systemic review of articles—this one reported in the Journal of Alternative Complementary & Integrative Medicine—looked at the effects of balneotherapy and Dead Sea climatotherapy (going to the Dead Sea to make use of its benefits).

The review found there were many benefits in both therapies, including anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory (immune system responses) effects for people with psoriasis who were using these therapies, with climatotherapy offering the most benefit.

Additional Benefits

Since ancient times, people have been using salts from the Dead Sea to treat a variety of illnesses naturally. In addition to the benefits to skin for people with psoriasis, here are some additional purported health and beauty benefits.

Muscle and Joint Pain Relief

Soaking in Dead Sea salts may facilitate the body’s absorption of minerals have properties that will promote the repair of tired and damaged parts of the body. This includes the joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Much of the research on the effect of Dead Sea salts on rheumatic diseases goes back 10 or more years. Most studies have confirmed that joint and muscle pain, swelling, and stiffness can be improved soaking in warm water containing these salts.

These older studies note that this is due to minerals improving blood circulation, which can reduce inflammation. These salts also have strong detoxifying and general relaxant properties, and when used in warm water, minerals can penetrate and absorb into the skin so the body is able to receive even more health benefits.

A 2012 systemic review of studies confirmed bathing in Dead Sea salts was safe and that Dead Sea salts were helpful for managing inflammation and pain in numerous rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is an inflammatory autoimmune disease known for attacking joints and other body tissues.

Anti-Aging Effects

Most of the research on anti-aging benefits of Dead Sea salts is older but may still be viable because much of the research has not been discredited. The effects Dead Sea salts have on the skin include exfoliation, hydration, and detoxification, which can translate into youthful and radiant-looking skin.

Regular use of face care products containing authentic Dead Sea salts may help with reducing existing wrinkles and may even prevent new ones from forming.

Sleep Promotion

It possible that soaking in Dead Sea salt, especially close to bedtime, might help you to sleep better at the night. This is because it contains magnesium, which plays a role in sleep cycles. After a warm bath in Dead Sea salts, you can sleep better because of the abruption of magnesium in your skin.

Stress Relief

Most people believe that warm baths are relaxing, but soaking a bath containing Dead Sea salts may actually offer stress relief. These salts are considered a natural muscle relaxant, and this is mostly due to the presence of magnesium. The detoxifying effect can also promote stress relief.

Hair Health

There is little or no research to back up any theories that Dead Sea salts can improve the life of hair. But it seems that there are many hair products available that contain these salts.

The purported benefits to hair include:

  • Adding volume and bounce to hair
  • Providing nutrients to hair follicles to make them softer and reduce hair loss
  • Reducing hair loss when applied to the scalp to improve circulation and stimulate hair group
  • Detoxifying and cleansing to restore cell balance and reduce scalp oiliness and dandruff

If these claimed benefits to hair can be confirmed, the use of hair products containing Dead Sea salts may be helpful to people living with scalp psoriasis, a type of psoriasis that causes lesions from the hairline and scalp to the forehead, neck, and ears.

Nail Health

Soaking nails in warm water containing Dead Sea salts is believed to strengthen the nails and soften the cuticles and the skin around nails. In addition to making nails stronger, the rich mineral content in dead sea salts can also make them whiter and brighter.

Soak nails for no more than 10 minutes and don’t forget to use a hand moisturizing cream afterward.

If there is truth before the benefits of using Dead Sea salts for nails, nail health products containing these salts may be helpful to people living with nail psoriasis. Nail psoriasis is known for damaging fingernails and toenails.

Cellulite And Water Retention Reduction

Dead Sea salts contain potassium which can help manage water retention when used for bathing and showering. Bathing in Dead Sea salts may help the body rid itself of toxins that have gotten trapped below the skin surface and caused cellulite. The result is that skin starts to look smoother.

Cellulite results from fatty deposits that have broken into the inner layers of skin, risen to the surface and created a dimpling effect on the buttocks, thighs, stomach, and back.

Some, but not all, of the touted health benefits of Dead Sea salts have been studied and confirmed for managing and treating a variety of conditions. You should always consult with your healthcare provider before using any new treatment for managing a health condition.

What To Look For

You don’t need to plan a trip to the Dead Sea to reap the healing properties of its salts. You can purchase authentic Dead Sea salts locally or online. You could also schedule a therapeutic Dead Sea treatment at a spa that offers this service. There are many products containing Dead Sea salt available for use on skin and hair.

For example, a shampoo containing Dead Sea salts can help manage inflammation, itching, scaling, and flakes associated with psoriasis. A foot scrub containing these salts could be helpful in removing scales and leaving feet feeling smooth and soft. Dead salts can also be found in facial scrubs, bath soaps and body washes, skin lotions and creams, and so much more.

Make sure you choose Dead Sea salts that have been cleaned without chemicals for the most benefit. The best way to ensure this is by reading labels and buying products that are not processed or refined. If you are purchasing bath salts, make sure they have a natural white color and are imported from locations near the Dead Sea (i.e. Israel and Jordan).

How to Use

There are plenty of ways to use skin products containing Dead Sea salts to enjoy the benefits of healing for psoriasis.

Soak in a bath: Add up to 2 cups of Dead Sea Salt to a warm bath and soak for 15 minutes to help loosen scales and reduce itching and inflammation caused by psoriasis.

As a foot scrub: Add a handful of Dead Sea salts to warm water for a relaxing foot scrub. The grains can scrub away dirt and dead skin leaving feet smooth and fresh.

As a face scrub: Dissolve a handful of Dead Sea salts into a basin of lukewarm water and rub gently to clean the face for moving dirt, oils, and dead skin to leave your face feeling soft and revitalized.

In the shower: Keep a jar of Dead Sea salt to use as a body scrub. Gently massage in the neck, shoulders, arms, and legs and rinse to scrub away dead, loosen scales, and reduce the inflammation and itching caused by psoriasis.

Safety and Precautions

Warm water and Dead Sea salt are generally safe for most people. However, it is still a good idea to take some precautions before you soak in bath salts.

For example, if you soak in a Dead Sea Salt bath and end up with an allergic reaction, you should avoid using the salts in the future. Additionally, avoid using bath salts if you have an open wound.

A Word From Verywell

While there is no cure for psoriasis, an effective treatment plan including the right medications and complementary therapies can help control inflammation, remove scales, and manage pain and inflammation in skin plaques. Talk to your healthcare provider about what may work well, considering your condition and medications you are taking.

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8 Sources
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