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Does Dead Sea Salt Help Psoriasis?

Posted on June 02, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A.
Article written by
Joan Grossman

Dead Sea salt can be an effective over-the-counter (OTC) remedy for psoriasis. Dead Sea salt is often used as a bath solution and is beneficial for some people with psoriasis in soothing the skin and helping with the removal of plaque psoriasis scales.

Many kinds of Dead Sea products, such as soaps, scrubs, shampoos, and moisturizers, can also be used for the topical treatment of psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes the overproduction of skin cells and thick, discolored patches of skin that can be itchy, scaly, or painful.

What Is Dead Sea Salt?

Dead Sea salt comes from the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea, also known as the Salt Sea, is a body of water below sea level that lies between Jordan and Israel in the Middle East. The Dead Sea is one of the saltiest lakes in the world and is the deepest of the hypersaline lakes, which are saltier than seawater. The Dead Sea is almost 10 times saltier than the ocean and is too salty to support animal life, which is how it got its name.

Dead Sea water has been known for its healing properties since ancient times, and the salt and minerals that can be found in this unique lake have been used for many different kinds of skin treatments over thousands of years.

How Does Dead Sea Salt Work for Psoriasis?

MyPsoriasisTeam members have reported visiting the Dead Sea and having Dead Sea treatments that relieved psoriasis symptoms. “I was lucky enough to visit the Dead Sea last year in Jordan,” a member said. “The mud and salt worked wonders for my psoriasis. I have used Dead Sea salts ever since in my bath. Today, I have no scales on my psoriasis.”

One study showed significant therapeutic effects for atopic dry skin (associated with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis) of a bath solution consisting of five percent Dead Sea salt. Participants soaked in the bath solution for 15 minutes per day over six weeks. After that time, beneficial effects of the sea salt soak included:

  • Improved function of the skin barrier
  • Increased hydration of the skin
  • Reduced signs of inflammation like redness and roughness

Although researchers do not fully understand the therapeutic mechanisms of Dead Sea salts, studies show that minerals are absorbed through the skin when bathing in Dead Sea salt solutions. Dead Sea salt is rich in magnesium, a key ingredient in Epsom salt, and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that are also beneficial for rheumatic diseases like psoriatic arthritis.

In addition to magnesium, levels of other minerals — bromine, rubidium, calcium, and zinc — were significantly increased in the body after bathing each day in Dead Sea salt over four weeks, suggesting these minerals may also be therapeutic. The magnesium bromide and magnesium chloride found in Dead Sea salt have been found to inhibit cell growth and the proliferation of skin cells in people with psoriasis.

Combining Dead Sea Salt and Phototherapy Treatments

Several studies have shown that Dead Sea salt can improve symptoms and quality of life for people with psoriasis. Some studies have looked at Dead Sea salt solutions for balneotherapy (bathing in saltwater, sometimes called spa therapy) in combination with phototherapy (ultraviolet light therapy) or sun exposure.

One study examined the effects of treating people with psoriasis at the Dead Sea with balneotherapy and sun exposure over a four-week period. Out of 18 participants, more than half experienced completely cleared skin. Overall, all participants averaged an 88 percent improvement, according to the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI).

Another study examined the effectiveness of Dead Sea salts, in combination with phototherapy, to simulate therapy that might take place at the Dead Sea. Therapy took place over six months and 356 participants were analyzed. Balneophototherapy was shown to be a highly effective treatment with significant improvement in PASI scores among people with moderate to severe psoriasis. In addition, balneotherapy with Dead Sea salts in combination with phototherapy was more effective than phototherapy alone.

Safety of Dead Sea Salt for Psoriasis

Dead Sea salt is considered safe and effective. There are virtually no side effects from saltwater baths.

Some Dead Sea treatments may contain other ingredients that are irritating to the skin and should be tested on a small area before using. Everyone’s skin is different. As one MyPsoriasisTeam member wrote, “Dead Sea salts work sometimes — but sometimes, they can be painful.”

Talk to your dermatologist if you have any adverse effects from using Dead Sea salt treatments.

MyPsoriasisTeam Members on Dead Sea Salt Products

Numerous Dead Sea salt products are available for the topical treatment of psoriasis, including lotions, gels, soaps, and shampoos. MyPsoriasisTeam members frequently share tips on products they have used for skin care.

One member had this advice for a salt bath solution: “Soak yourself in Dead Sea salt, vinegar, and some baking soda.” Another suggested, “Try some coconut oil and Dead Sea salts in the bath together. The sea salt helps the itching and the soreness, and the coconut oil helps soften the skin.”

Other members prefer Dead Sea salt products rather than baths. “I use Dead Sea salt scrub and Dead Sea salt butter to moisturize and it really helps me,” said one MyPsoriasisTeam member. Another wrote, “I use Dead Sea salt body wash and bath salt. It works wonders.”

One MyPsoriasisTeam member described his experience: “I discovered this thing called Dead Sea salt and I’ve been using it all over my body. I have a container of it in the shower and add some water to make a paste. I scrub my entire body with it in the shower, including my scalp, and I can’t tell you the difference it’s made. My scalp is almost clear in just about a week. I rub some salt paste in my hair and then rinse it out about two minutes later. It burns a little, but that’s OK.”

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 93,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their experiences with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Are you curious about Dead Sea salt for psoriasis, or have you given it a try? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.

References

  1. Over-the-Counter Topicals — National Psoriasis Foundation
  2. About Psoriasis — National Psoriasis Foundation
  3. The Dead Sea — European Space Agency
  4. Balneotherapy for Rheumatic Diseases at the Dead Sea Area — Israel Journal of Medical Sciences
  5. Bathing in Magnesium-Rich Dead Sea Salt Solution Improves Skin Barrier Function, Enhances Skin Hydration, and Reduces Inflammation in Atopic Dry Skin — International Journal of Dermatology
  6. Effect of Dead Sea Climatotherapy on Psoriasis; A Prospective Cohort Study — Frontiers In Medicine
  7. A Randomized Clinical Trial in Psoriasis: Synchronous Balneophototherapy With Bathing in Dead Sea Salt Solution Plus Narrowband UVB vs. Narrowband UVB Alone (Tomesa-study Group) — Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
  8. Balneotherapy in Dermatology — Dermatologic Therapy
  9. Skin Penetration of Minerals in Psoriatics and Guinea-Gigs Bathing in Hypertonic Salt Solutions — Pharmacological Research Communications
  10. Inhibition of Proliferation of Psoriatic and Healthy Fibroblasts in Cell Culture by Selected Dead-Sea Salts — Pharmacology
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A. is the clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Joan Grossman is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and consultant based in Brooklyn, NY. Learn more about her here.

A MyPsoriasisTeam Member said:

Hello, I was thinking about looking into Otezla but I hate taking any drugs if I can avoid it. I heard that it helps some and not others? If it didn't do anything why were you on it so long? Is it… read more

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