By Brenda Barron

Saltwater has been used for various treatments throughout the ages, including as a way to help control acne. Although no one treatment works for everyone, saltwater appears to show some promise for treating breakouts and keeping the skin balanced and fresh.

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woman with clear skin

General Benefits of Saltwater

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woman in salt bath

Saltwater is used for all sorts of things. Besides being an additive to give flavor to foods, salt is also used as a cleanser. It can be used as a mouthwash, toothpaste and even as a treatment for insect bites and stings. It can also be used in the bath to soften the skin and relax tense muscles. Soaking in saltwater can also reduce fatigue.

How Saltwater Affects Acne

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Dealing with acne can be made a bit easier by applying saltwater to affected areas. This can help relieve dry skin, which in some cases is a cause of acne. If your skin is too dry, it may compensate by overproducing oil, resulting in blocked pores. Applying warm saltwater to your skin exfoliates dead skin cells, soaks up excess oil and keeps your skin soft.

Drawbacks of Saltwater

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Even though saltwater is useful in treating some cases of acne, eczema and even skin infections, it can also make it difficult to thoroughly clean your skin. Salt prevents soaps from lathering properly, which can leave your skin feeling grimy. Likewise, salt can dry your skin if left on for too long. You may notice this after a long day at the beach and in the ocean; your skin feels dried out and chalky. Only brief applications of saltwater should be used to avoid these unpleasant drawbacks.

Applying Saltwater

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The application of saltwater on acne is easy to carry out. Mix 1 tsp. sea salt with warm water. You can either make a paste out of this mixture or just saltwater, depending on how you want to use it. For the paste concoction, apply it to the skin, leave it on for 10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. The saltwater mixture is applied like a toner. Soak a cotton ball in it and swipe it over the affected area to remove impurities and revitalize the skin.


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If you have sensitive skin, steer clear of using saltwater as an acne treatment. Salt has the potential of being very irritating to the skin, especially if you tend to break out after going to the beach or being out in the sun. Saltwater may also dry out your skin, leaving it flaky and peeling--a problem that could lead to increased oil production and even more breakouts.