Epsom salt soaks are a gentle, natural and easy way to treat back acne. All it takes is adding some of the compound to a nice warm bath and enjoying a relaxing soak in the tub. Epsom salt is easy to find and doesn’t cost much, making it a simple and affordable solution to acne on the back and other places on the body.
Epsom salt is a natural mineral compound called magnesium sulfate. As the name indicates, the major components are magnesium and sulfates. The magnesium in Epsom salt can be absorbed through the skin, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Epsom salt is easy to find at the drugstore or grocery store, often near first-aid supplies. Epsom salt is inexpensive. This component of ocean water also may be called “magnesium sulfate crystals.”
Epsom salt can be used to treat acne effectively, according to Acne Treatment Guru. An Epsom salt bath soak is especially helpful for treating back acne because such acne is hard to reach. Epsom salt also is an excellent anti-inflammatory treatment that can counter redness, irritation and itchy skin. The mineral magnesium in the salt is involved in more than 300 reactions in the body, according to the University of Maryland. It activates enzymes and helps regulate levels of many nutrients that are important to skin health, including zinc, potassium and vitamin D. Magnesium can be taken as a nutritional supplement as well as absorbed through the skin via a bath. However, several factors can interfere with effectiveness, including presence of some foods or drugs, medical conditions and the chemistry of a person's stomach acid. Sulfates help to flush toxins along with improving nutrient absorption, according to the Epsom salt council. Epsom salt soaks also are commonly used in sports medicine to help with sprains, strains and pulled muscles.
To treat back acne, Epsom salt can be added to a warm bath, according to Acne Treatment Guru. Pour one to two cups of salt into the bathtub as the water runs. Relax and soak in the bath for as long as possible, at minimum 15 minutes. Do not use bath foam or any other man-made product in the bath. Use a loofah to encourage absorption and circulation. After the bath, drink plenty of water and wrap yourself up in something warm.
Do not rub Epsom salts directly onto your skin. They are too abrasive. Direct skin rubbing can break your skin and actually aggravate your acne. Also note that magnesium competes with calcium for absorption. This may cause a calcium deficiency if you have low calcium intake levels, according to the University of Maryland. Magnesium also has possible interactions with a host of drugs, so check with your physician before starting Epsom salt soaks. Epsom salt needs to be stored in an airtight container, as it may soak up moisture from the air. This makes it stick together in clumps.
An early discovery of magnesium sulfate occurred in Shakespeare's era in Epsom, England. This is where the name came from. The term "salt" likely refers to the compound’s specific chemical structure, according to the Epsom Salt Council. Many mistakenly assume the name derives from Epsom salt’s crystalline structure, because it has an appearance that is similar to table salt. Table salt consists of sodium chloride and is an entirely different substance.
Linda Tarr Kent is a reporter and editor with more than 20 years experience at Gannett Company Inc., The McClatchy Company, Sound Publishing Inc., Mach Publishing, MomFit The Movement and other companies. Her area of expertise is health and fitness. She is a Bosu fitness and stand-up paddle surfing instructor. Kent holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Washington State University.