Experts at Mayo Clinic suggest soaking skin in an Epsom salt solution can sooth skin irritations like swimmer's itch or hives by reducing the itch and inflammation associated with the outbreak. The Epsom salts are dissolved in warm water and the affected area is submerged and soaked in the liquid. Chronic hives that occur from an underlying health issue can not be treated or cured by either internal or external Epsom salt treatment.
Epsom salt or magnesium sulfate is, according to Drugs.com, sometimes referred to as a drug because of its medicinal uses. However, the substance is a naturally occurring mineral found in nature. Hives are small round bumps that may appear in reddish batches on nearly any part of the body. Mayo Clinic experts indicate that while topical treatments like Epsom salts can relieve random hive outbreaks, chronic hives need professional diagnosis and treatment.
Hives are the immune system's reaction to an irritation to the body. The irritation triggers a reddish inflammation of the skin when histamines and other chemicals are released into the bloodstream. The reaction causes small blood vessels to leak and produce the patches. Mayo Clinic further explains that chronic hives are a sign of more complicated health issues that need a doctor's care. An occasional hive outbreak can be treated topically with Epsom salts or baking soda.
DoubleCheckMD verifies that side effects from using Epsom salt externally as a soak are rare and limited to actually causing hives themselves or further escalating the existing skin reaction. If either occurs, you should discontinue use immediately. Epsom salts taken internally show no clinical signs of curing or reducing the signs of skin hives. Because high levels of magnesium sulfate in the body can be toxic, Epsom salts should only be taken as prescribed, when used internally.
Drugs.com cautions consumers that Epsom salts do interact harmfully with some other drugs. If you are taking digoxin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, a tetracycline antibiotic, nitrofurantoin or penicillamine you should consult your physician before using Epsom salts. In addition, consult your pharmacist about any over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals or herbs you are taking before using Epsom salts medicinally, to prevent harmful interactions.
Epsom salts can be administered in a few different ways, according to DoubleCheckMD. They can be injected intravenously, diluted in water and drunk, diluted in water and used as an anal enema or mixed in a bath for external soaking. In all instances, the mixtures should be made only according to specific doctor or packaging dosage instructions. Always consult your physician before beginning an Epsom salt regimen.