After a long run, prolonged periods of time standing or spending too much time in stiff dress shoes, your feet may be aching for some relief. Luckily, you probably have the answer in your bathroom cabinet already!
An Epsom salt foot soak is an easy and inexpensive way to soothe tired feet and provide a range of other health benefits from heel to toe.
Although it includes the word "salt" in the name, Epsom salt is actually a mineral compound containing both magnesium and sulfate. Named after the English town of Epsom where it was first discovered, Epsom salt is widely used as a treatment for a variety of bodily ailments.
While a debate remains about how many of these minerals can actually be absorbed through the skin, there are many useful benefits Epsom salts may provide for your feet.
Read more: Benefits of Epsom Salt Baths
What Does an Epsom Salt Soak Do?
Epsom salt is touted as a cure-all for a number of ailments, from soothing sore muscles to decreasing inflammation to aiding in your body's absorption of magnesium.
By soaking your feet in an Epsom salt foot bath, you give your feet a chance soothe, relax, soften, and take advantage of the many potential Epsom salt benefits.
Why Are Epsom Salts Good for Feet?
Epsom salt offers a number of benefits for the feet, from soothing and softening calluses and rough skin to decreasing inflammation and pain from various foot ailments.
A study in the International Journal of Dermatology found that soaking skin in water high in magnesium salts has been found to soften rough skin.
An Epsom salt foot bath also helps to clean the feet from dirt and bacteria, helping to eliminate foot odor and preventing infection of cuts, scrapes or irritated toenail beds.
There is also limited research suggesting magnesium, a mineral contained in Epsom salt, may play a role in preventing and providing relief for foot cramps.
A warm Epsom salt foot bath can be useful for helping to remove splinters from the foot, providing relief for ingrown toenails, and reducing inflammation from infections like athlete's foot or toenail infections. An Epsom salt foot soak may also help provide some relief for gout.
Do Epsom Salts Draw Out Toxins?
While some proponents claim that the sulfate in Epsom salt can help draw toxins out of the body, there is limited evidence to support the claim.
Epsom salt doesn't directly treat infection. However, it can help alleviate inflammation, decrease swelling, and soften skin to allow other treatments or medication to be more effective. Some studies have found that Epsom salt can provide antibacterial properties as well.
How Do I Make an Epsom Salt Foot Bath?
To make your own Epsom salt foot bath, gather a bucket of very warm water. Add up to two cups of Epsom salt per gallon of water and stir to dissolve. You can also add essential oils like lavender or peppermint for additional aromatherapy benefits.
Using very warm water may be key to getting the highest benefit from your Epsom salt foot soak — a study published in Experimental Biology and Medicine found that heat greatly increased the skin's permeability to magnesium, a key element in Epsom salt.
How Long Should I Soak My Feet in Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt foot soaks can last from five to 30 minutes. While some sources suggest you can soak your feet for up to an hour, there won't be many additional benefits beyond 20-30 minutes and the water will no longer be warm.
After an Epsom foot bath, be sure to dry your foot completely and apply a moisturizer to seal in the softening benefits.
How Often Should I Soak My Feet in Epsom Salt?
An Epsom salt foot bath is generally safe to use two to three times a week for 20-30 minutes at a time. If you notice that your feet are become overly dry, you may want to cut back on Epsom salt foot baths though
According to the Ankle & Foot Institute of Texas, excessive use of Epsom foot baths can lead to dried, cracked skin on the feet.