"Salt water cleared my acne!" It’s probably not the first nor last time you found something along these lines posted somewhere on the internet (cough, Reddit, cough). Luckily, there are more reliable sources we can use to learn more about the actual ways in which salt water impacts our skin.
The physical-chemical composition of salt water plays a key role in its therapeutic and/or cosmetic properties, which is why this kind of water is among the essentials used in health resort skin treatments.
Besides that, salt water has other more practical uses, one of which is its indispensable significance in medicine. Salt water of adequate purity is an effective treatment for various skin conditions, which is best seen through its therapeutic properties and its use in healing of injured or irritated skin.
Salt Water For Skin Conditions
Salt water is a crucial part of different therapies and is beneficial for a variety of skin conditions.
Thalassotherapy is the use of sea water high in salinity to treat the skin or body in cosmetic or wellness treatments. The significance of seawater in thalassotherapy lies in its rich mineral content. It contains chlorides, primarily sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iodine, as well as marine peloids known as limes.
When you come into contact with this water, these elements penetrate your skin and affect its cells by changing the pressure inside them (which may prevent cell death). The most frequently mentioned form of thalassotherapy is Dead Sea therapy, which involves physically traveling to the Dead Sea (which is about 10 times saltier than other bodies of water) to bathe in it with the goal of alleviating skin conditions.
A 2012 study found that Dead Sea thalassotherapy makes for effective treatment of atopic dermatitis. According to another related study, being near the Dead Sea improves the quality of life in people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Furthermore, vitiligo, too, can be effectively treated with thalassotherapy at the Dead Sea. Namely, Dead Sea water exposure decreases the duration and severity of vitiligo, as well as the length of treatment.
However, there's no need to worry if you can't just hop on the next plane to Israel for a healing bath in the Dead Sea—any kind of salt water exposure in combination with phototherapy can be beneficial if you suffer from some of these conditions.
For example, a combination of salt water baths and solar radiation proved to be an effective treatment for both patients with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. And if visiting the seaside is definitely not an option for you, you can prepare your own salt water bath at home.
A recent (2020) study showed that indoor salt water baths followed by artificial ultraviolet B light may even improve chronic plaque psoriasis and these baths are much more beneficial than phototherapy alone.
With all of the above in mind, we can conclude that salt water can bring relief in numerous skin conditions, either as a part of thalassotherapy, phototherapy, or on its own due to its high and diverse mineral content.
Salt Water in Skin Trauma and Irritations
Salt water can be beneficial in skin recovery from trauma and irritations. The National Institute of Health suggests using a saline solution, i.e., salt water, to clean the skin surrounding a wound and even rinse out wounds themselves.
What's more, a large-scale 2015 study examining 2,400 people with open arm or leg fractures had these patients’ wounds cleaned with soapy water or a saline solution. Interestingly, saline proved more effective than soap and water, it prevented infections and by that also reduced the likelihood for additional surgery.
This does not imply that you should wash your cuts and wounds in the ocean, but it does indicate that salt water of controlled purity definitely benefits your skin's healing process. A salt water rinse can also help relieve pain and speed up the healing process of canker sores (aphthous ulcers—lesions forming on the mouth and gum tissue).
A specific kind of salt water—deep seawater—helps alleviate various skin irritations. Deep seawater, as its name suggests, is taken from deep, uncontaminated levels of the sea and is also characterized by low temperature and a high nutrient content.
A 2016 study found that this water can help with allergic skin reactions like swelling, redness, dryness, itchiness, and cracking. Moreover, it may also help patients with allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, reduce skin hypersensitivity and reactivity.
Acne can also be a symptom of skin irritation or can result in more irritation, in which case salt water can help soothe the redness, itchiness, or soreness. However, it is important to keep in mind that salt water helps with irritation, not the underlying cause of your acne. What this means is that salt water will not eliminate your breakouts, but it may soothe your already irritated skin.
The use of salt water clearly has very important applications in medicine, especially in case of skin irritations and the healing of injuries.
Can Salt Water Help With Your Skin Problems?
After everything you’ve read and heard today, it probably comes as no surprise that salt water, especially when it is of controlled quality, helps treat and improve a plethora of skin problems.
Its high mineral content makes salt water a perfect ingredient in different kinds of synergistic skin therapies that can help with extremely stubborn skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.
Besides the treatment of skin diseases, salt water is tremendously important in treating skin injuries, promoting the healing of wounds and preventing infections.
Do bear in mind that salt water alone is not sufficient to cure the aforementioned skin diseases, but it can definitely help keep them at bay and it is a marvelous supplement to already existing therapies.
Considering its incredible potential in medicine, future research could explore some additional applications of salt water in this field; who knows this water might prove to have even more benefits than we might be aware of.