Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, has long served as a soothing balm when sprinkled into bathwater, appropriate for adults or children. A soak in the dissolved salts is typically intended to relax strained or sore muscles. In addition, Epsom salt baths may be used to allay psoriasis symptoms, soften skin or even to restore the body's internal levels of magnesium and sulfate. A more recently discovered application is the soothing quality of Epsom salt for many children with autism.
General Guidelines for Kids
Read the instructions on your package of Epsom salt before adding any to the bath. Typically, the dosage indicated for an adult or a child over the age of 6 is about two cups in a full bathtub, for soaks of up to 30 minutes at a time. In most cases, Epsom salt is not recommended for children under 6. While the salt solution is not necessarily harmful in and of itself, accidental ingestion may cause sudden diarrhea or more serious side effects. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your doctor before using the salt in your child's bath.
If your children have been playing hard all day, adding some Epsom salt to the evening bath is a good way to encourage them to slow down while soothing any strained muscles. An Epsom salt bath is also helpful in relieving psoriasis symptoms, such as scaly or inflamed skin, which can lead to self-consciousness or social anxiety, particularly among teens and preteens.
If your child has autism or a sulfate deficiency, taking regular baths with Epsom salt can greatly improve overall health by restoring sulfate. The ion is absorbed directly through the skin so that it can enter the blood and begin to aid the kidneys and digestive system. Though evidence of Epsom salt helping autism is largely anecdotal, individuals with autism typically do have low sulfate levels. Since the baths are noninvasive and carry no risks, many physicians recommend that parents of children with autism try the practice, according to Dr. James B. Adams of the University of Arizona.
While Epsom salt is excellent for psoriasis, it may exacerbate some skin conditions. Consult with your doctor before sprinkling any salt into the bathwater if your child has any open sores or wounds, signs of infection or inflammation. Check whether you have pure Epsom salt or specially blended bath salts. The latter may be infused with various fragrances, oils or other material, which may cause irritation or even an allergic reaction if your child has sensitive skin.
Danielle Hill has been writing, editing and translating since 2005. She has contributed to "Globe Pequot" Barcelona travel guide, "Gulfshore Business Magazine," "Connecting Lines: New Poetry from Mexico" and "The Barcelona Review." She has trained in neuro-linguistic programming and holds a Bachelor of Arts in comparative literature and literary translation from Brown University.