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Val123's avatar

Do Epsom salts really do anything to "pull out" infection and reduce swelling?

Asked by Val123 (12679points) June 16th, 2010

I’ve been advised, more than once, to soak something (usually a foot) in Epsom salts to pull out infection and reduce swelling. I do think there is a difference between soaking an owie in plain warm water, and soaking in Epsom salt and plain warm water. The Epsom salts do seem to work…or am I imagining things?

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20 Answers

shilolo's avatar

As home remedies go, this one is fairly benign. I doubt highly that there is any difference between soaking in Epsom salts and warm water, especially if the goal is to bring an abscess (infection) to a head. When people have a stye (an infected eye hair follicle), the treatment is warm compresses to the affected eye. Likewise, when there is a small abscess or pustule or furuncle, the treatment is warm compresses, soaks, showers or baths. Bottom line is that this is likely harmless, but unlikely helpful above and beyond the warm water part.

afaulkner09's avatar

I am not sure about epsom salts, but I have heard that good lye soap can do pretty much anything. You just use it like you would regular soap.

Val123's avatar

@shilolo I kinda think that too, but…I kinda don’t know…

Ivan's avatar

It has helped me in the past, but I’ve never ran a control test to see if the salt actually had any effect.

Val123's avatar

Thanks @Ivan. You’re my favorite geek now.
Guess I need to get some infections and run some tests.

dpworkin's avatar

Epsom Salts can have a soothing effect, and they are absorbed through the skin.

Val123's avatar

Why, thank you @dpworkin

Val123's avatar

@Rarebear? Any comment on AGN’s post??

prescottman2008's avatar

Epsom Salts, also known as Magnesium Sulphate are a cathartic when taken internally. External use, as in a warm water & epsom salts soak is effective due to the anti-inflammatory effects of the magnesium.

Val123's avatar

Too much salt will SERIOUSLY make you sick.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I don’t know, but I will tell you what. One time I had an injury, and I ended up spending hours upon hours every day soaking in an epsom salt bath. By the end of the week I had lost 10lbs. I was stunned. Later I happened to read that celebrities were getting wrapped up like mummies with wraps soaked in magnesium sulfate as a weight loss fad. I’d have thought the whole thing was absurd, but it did SOMETHING. I’m not sure if that actually applies to the question… but it’s a true story.

Val123's avatar

Well, salt WILL pull all the fluids from your body! (See pouring salt on a slug…no, don’t!) That’s water loss, not fat loss!

dpworkin's avatar

@prescottman2008 It is our convention when we quote here to denominate a source.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Val123 of course I didn’t think it was actual fat loss. But that was essentially my point, it did appear to draw water from my body. 10lbs worth over a weeks time. So I wonder if it does draw other things from the body.

dpworkin's avatar

I was first told that I should try Epsom salts by a physical therapist. I was skeptical, but after soaking the injured part I had substantial pain relief and much more freedom of movement, so I asked my physician what was really going on, and the answer I got was that the warmth was a great deal of the reason for the effect, but that studies had shown that the salts were absorbed, and that they did have some ameliorative effect beyond that of placebo, and much beyond that of withheld treatment.

Val123's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie I thought of that today too. My daughter has poison oak (we think)...I was wondering what a salt pack might do….
@dpworkin Thanks. (Pretty dog in your Av, BTW. I have a white one just like that….)

Rarebear's avatar

@Val123 Still waiting for the picture!

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