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Sodium, Potassium & Skin Eczema

By Natalie Smith, Ph.D.

Eczema is a condition characterized by inflamed, scaly and itchy skin. The patches of eczema may occur anywhere on the body, but they are more likely to appear on the face, scalp or extremities. As of the date of publication, there is no cure for eczema, but bathing with potassium permanganate or sodium may help relieve the itching and irritation.

Causes

No one knows what causes eczema, but it is more common in people who suffer from hay fever or allergies, according to PubMed Health. Most eczema sufferers develop the first symptoms of eczema as infants. Eczema may be caused by an immune reaction, similar to an allergic reaction, that causes the skin to become inflamed. Several triggers can cause an eczema flareup including heat, rough or scratchy fabric, dry skin, contact with an irritant or stress.

Potassium Permanganate

Potassium permanganate is a chemical compound composed of potassium, manganese and oxygen. A weak solution of potassium permanganate can have a soothing effect on eczema, especially eczema that is blistered or infected. To use potassium permanganate, dissolve the tablets in hot water in a ratio of 1 part potassium permanganate to 10,000 parts water, according to the New Zealand Dermatological Society, or one 400 milligram tablet for every 4 liters, which will make the water pink. Bathe in this solution twice a day until the eczema clears up. This chemical is caustic unless it is highly diluted, so take care to measure the ingredients.

Sodium

Bathing in a salt bath is another common treatment for mild to moderate eczema outbreaks. Use either Epsom salts or sea salt in your bath water for the treatment, or visit the seashore and take a dip. Magnesium salts are the key soothing ingredients in both of these salt solutions. A 2005 study published in the "International Journal of Dermatology" found that bathing in sea water that's rich in magnesium salts reduces the roughness and redness associated with eczema.

When to Consult Your Physician

If your eczema is infected and oozing or if you develop a fever, consult your physician before treating eczema at home. Your physician may wish to try topical treatments, antihistamines or antibiotics for the infection before she authorizes the use of a potassium permanganate or salt bath. In some severe cases, the salt or potassium permanganate may make an infection worse. In addition, potassium permanganate or salt baths are not appropriate for small children who may drink the bath water.

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