Sea Salt for Seborrheic Dermatitis Treatment Guide and Research Summary

If you look around online you will find lots of testimonials on how people are able to control their seborrheic dermatitis symptoms with the use of sea salt washes, baths, and lotions.

Could something as simple as sea salt be the cure for seborrheic dermatitis?

This article reviews the most popular ways sea salt is utilized for the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis and covers various usage tips that may be relevant if you go down this path.

If you’ve arrived here based on the idea that sea salt (specifically dead sea salt) may be a seborrheic dermatitis treatment that reduces the malassazia yeast population on your skin, you may be have a completely different understanding by the time you finished reading this.

How People Use Sea Salt to Treat Seborrheic Dermatitis

Below are the three most popular methods in which people have successfully used sea salt to manage/cure their seborrheic dermatitis.

The reason I said both manage and cure seborrheic dermatitis, is that there are people who report complete remission of their seborrheic dermatitis using sea salt.

1. Sea Salt Water Soaks for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Some people have found that mixing a fairly strong solution of about 1 teaspoon of sea salt per half a liter of water, then soaking the affected skin for about 5-10 minutes extremely effective.

Sea Salt Soak for Seborrheic Dermatitis - Proportions Diagram

Magnesium rich sea salt appears to be superior
Various literature examining the usage of sea salt for the treatment of various skin conditions suggests that magnesium-rich sea salts (such as dead sea salt) appear to have superior effectiveness [1, 2].

2. Sea Salt Water Shower Rinses for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Another popular way to utilize sea salt is in the shower. Instead of taking the time to soak your skin in a salt solution, simply prepare a bit for the shower. Once in the shower take a handful of your pre-prepared mix and apply to the skin. Leave it on while you continue with your regular shower and simply rinse off with cold water at the end.

Typically most people recommend about the same proportion of sea salt to water as the soak above. Specifically 1 teaspoon per 1/2 liter of water.

3. Sea Salt Nasal Irrigation Sprays

Saline nasal sprays for use as a skin treatment

Recently I had a stuffy nose and someone told me to use some saline nasal spray. It was something I’ve never seen before, so it was a great discovery. The one I bought is just disinfected isotonic (which means its the same concentration of salt as your body) seawater and produces a very gentle mist.

It seems it would actually be perfect for misting the face with. The concentration will always be spot on, it will likely have more trace minerals present than strictly sea salt (if it’s actual seawater), the way it disperses the salt water solution evenly is a great benefit, and the convenience factor is there as well (easy to take with you).

However, since my seborrheic dermatitis has been controlled (using the approach discussed: here, I didn’t bother attempting this. If anyone gives this a try, please leave your findings in the comments.

Additional Tips for Treating Seborrheic Dermatitis with Sea Salt

Now that you know several sea salt treatment approaches you can try, there are a few treatment tips you should keep in mind:

  • Follow-up with a light moisturizer if you find the skin overly dry
  • Avoid contact with eyes
  • Try different types of sea salt (dead sea salt has the most evidence)

Dry Skin After Sea Salt Treatment and How to Moisturize It

Many individuals find that sea salt water treatments can be quite drying when you first start. In this case, a simple moisturizer can be helpful.

However, this is where it gets a little tricky since many popular moisturizers on the market actually aggravate seborrheic dermatitis. To maximize the positive results obtained from the sea salt it is critical to find a suitable moisturizer. For this you can take a look at my previous post one moisturizers I recommended for seborrheic dermatitis.

Most moisturizers contain a variety of oils which are believed to feed the exact fungus (Malassezia yeast) which is believed to be an integral part of the seborrheic dermatitis problem. The key is to use one without any oils known to aggravate seborrheic dermatitis.

Alliteratively if you can get away without moisturizing at all, even better!

Be Careful When Applying Sea Salt to Facial Skin Affected by Seborrheic Dermatitis

If you plan on applying the salt water solution to the face, close your eyes and cover your entire face. Once your ready to rinse off, make sure to rinse thoroughly so none of the salt water gets in your eyes. If it does get it your eyes don’t worry too much as it’s not going to do any long-term damage, but it will sting quite a bit.

What Type of Sea Salt Works Best for Treating Seborrheic Dermatitis

All the people that have provided successfully testimony for this treatment have used various sea salts with great results. For me personally, I did not notice much for a difference between the different types. The two that a lot of people swear by are Dead Sea Salt and Himalayan Pink Sea Salt.

Dead sea salt has quite a bit of evidence that suggests it’s quite effective for psoriasis (a condition with many similarities to seborrheic dermatitis) treatment [3, 4]. However, Himalayan Pink Sea Salt does not appear to be very different than regular sea salt and this makes it a little questionable in my opinion.

How Dead Sea Salt Differs

Dead Sea Salt is quite high in magnesium especially compared to regular sea salt. Research evaluating the effectiveness of dead sea salt suggests that this is the key characteristic that makes it effective for various skin disease [1].

Additionally, since magnesium is known to act as a fairly strong anti-inflammatory and this could truly explain why some people report improved results with its usage.

Which Sea Salt Should You Use

In the end, it’s up to you. For me, good old regular sea salt worked just as well as the other options that I’ve tested.

For reference, here is a review of some popular salts:

  • Dead sea salt
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • Magnesium salt (magnesium chloride)
  • Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
Various salts available for seborrheic dermatitis treatment

And if you do end-up experimenting, would love to hear how it goes.

Research Data You Should Consider – Impact of Sea Salt on Malassezia

During my time with this website, sea salt treatments have continued to come on my radar in one form or another. Whether it’s balneophototherapy (combination of salt water solution and UVA/UVB radiation) as a natural psoriasis treatment [5] or magnesium rich salt water soaks to improve atopic dermatitis [1], it seems that salt holds tremendous potential for those of us affected by inflammatory skin issues.

When it comes to seborrheic dermatitis treatment, there were certain findings that contradicted many things I originally understood about the effect of salt water on our skin condition. Perhaps these findings will be as eye-opening for you as they were for me:

  • The understanding that application of a dead sea salt solution reduces the skin’s yeast population is speculative at best [6]
  • Killed malassezia yeasts applied to the skin of rabbits results in skin symptoms similar to those reported in seborrheic dermatitis and plaque psoriasis [7]
  • Similar outcome (to that of the above study on rabbits) was also demonstrated in a small study group of ten human participants [8]
  • A more recent paper from 2018 evaluating the impact of “dead sea climotherapy” (a treatment approach that requires travel to the dead sea to expose the skin to the combined effect of extended sun exposure and bathing in the salt-rich dead sea) actually showed that therapy induces a malassezia outgrowth – where these yeasts being to dominate the fungal flora of the skin post treatment
  • Application of concentrated deep sea water resolves atopic dermatitis through its effect on immune response regulation and reduction of inflammatory hormones [9]
  • The concentration of sodium is increased during bacterial skin infection; sodium influences immune system activation; and a high salt diet appears to aid against infection []

Taken together, the data suggest that the positive impact of salt on seborrheic dermatitis is likely to be the result of its effect on the skin’s immune response (reducing inflammation and regulating the way the immune system responds to malassezia yeasts) – rather than fighting the malassezia yeast head-in.

My Own Experience Using Sea Salt

For me, topical treatment with sea salt produced various outcomes. In some cases, it led to drastic improvement, while at other times, successive treatment could lead to worsening and aggravation of the condition.

My biggest success with salt came from loosening my dietary sodium restriction (based on the recent trends in health and nutrition). As I began to introduce sodium back into my diet, it seemed to have a significant impact on dampening my level of skin inflammation in areas affected by seborrheic dermatitis

My skin started to return to its previous condition and other health problems were also positively affected. It must, however, be noted that initially my sodium intake was practically nil and this led me to experiment. If your sodium intake is already high (from sources such as processed foods) it is highly recommended to first reduce these contributory sources before adding sea salt to your diet.

However, please take this with a grain of salt. 🙂 During this time, sodium intake was not the only thing that changed and it’s likely that the combination of my efforts had lead to the progressive improvement of my condition.

Perhaps chasing that single magic trick that will rid you of your issues forever is not as worthwhile as it first seems. Taking the time to understand your skin issues at a fundamental level is likely to prove a more resultful endeavour for most. And reading through the Seborrheic Dermatitis – The Owner’s Manual can be a good starting point for most readers.

Summary

Dead sea salt has been used for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations held high regards for its healing power and it was traded in markets all over the world.

  1. Many individuals have provided strong testimonials on the effectiveness of topical sea salt application in treating and sometimes even curing seborrheic dermatitis
  2. The most commonly used method is to mix a teaspoon of sea salt with 1/4 liter of water and use this to soak the skin for 5-10 minutes
  3. When using sea salt soaks; following up with a moisturizer, avoiding eye contact and trying different types of sea salt can be useful
  4. Most online communities suggest that sea salt treatment can prevent malassezia overgrowth and partially works through its antifungal properties, but the research suggests otherwise
  5. Dead sea therapy can actually result in malassezia outgrowth and it’s most likely the positive effects of sea salt treatment are related to its impact on the skin’s inflammatory response
  6. Based on current nutritional advice many of us aim to reduce our sodium intake, however, dietary sodium may play a beneficial role in the health of our skin
  7. Searching for a single cure is likely to be less worthwhile than using the time to further understand your skin issues at a more fundamental level

In the end, I believe that sea salt treatment (sea salt of any kind) remains one of the most influential, yet poorly understood natural treatment approaches to seborrheic dermatitis. If you would like more information in regards to my approach or would like to share your experience please drop a comment below.

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References

  1. Ehrhardt Proksch, Hans-Peter Nissen, Markus Bremgartner, Colin Urquhart "Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution improves skin barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces inflammation in atopic dry skin." International journal of dermatology 44.2 (2005): 151-7. PubMed
  2. Navin Chandrakanth Chandrasekaran, Washington Y Sanchez, Yousuf H Mohammed, Jeffrey E Grice, Michael S Roberts, Ross T Barnard "Permeation of topically applied Magnesium ions through human skin is facilitated by hair follicles." Magnesium research 29.2 (2017): 35-42. PubMed
  3. S Sukenik, H Giryes, S Halevy, L Neumann, D Flusser, D Buskila "Treatment of psoriatic arthritis at the Dead Sea." The Journal of rheumatology 21.7 (1994): 1305-9. PubMed
  4. Uriel Katz, Yehuda Shoenfeld, Varda Zakin, Yaniv Sherer, Shaul Sukenik "Scientific evidence of the therapeutic effects of dead sea treatments: a systematic review." Seminars in arthritis and rheumatism 42.2 (2013): 186-200. PubMed
  5. Colleen Mikula "Balneo-phototherapy: a new holistic approach to treating psoriasis." Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners 15.6 (2003): 253-9. PubMed
  6. M Duvic "Possible mechanisms of effectiveness of Dead Sea balneotherapy." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 15.5 Pt 1 (1987): 1061. PubMed
  7. E W Rosenberg, P Belew, G Bale "Effect of topical applications of heavy suspensions of killed Malassezia ovalis on rabbit skin." Mycopathologia 72.3 (1981): 147-54. PubMed
  8. C W Lober, P W Belew, E W Rosenberg, G Bale "Patch tests with killed sonicated microflora in patients with psoriasis." Archives of dermatology 118.5 (1982): 322-5. PubMed
  9. Jong-Phil Bak, Yong-Min Kim, Jeonghyun Son, Chang-Ju Kim, Ee-Hwa Kim "Application of concentrated deep sea water inhibits the development of atopic dermatitis-like skin lesions in NC/Nga mice." BMC complementary and alternative medicine 12 (2013): 108. PubMed
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About Michael Anders

After being affected by seborrheic dermatitis, I have made it my goal to gather and organize all the information that has helped me in my journey.

Notable Community Replies

  1. mark says:

    Hi i was just wondering , did the sea salt remedy help out with reducing the redness?

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  2. I’ve been using dead sea salt for my scalp. At first, it was almost magical (though extremely painful) to use. I was mixing it with my conditioner to make it easy to apply. Now, it doesn’t seem to make quite a strong improvement. It really only ever reduced itching and reduced the amount of flaky. It never cleared up my SD completely. I saw your other post about your current regiment and might have to give those things a try.

    Is there a better way to be using sea salt on my scalp as a topical relief? Direct application in the conditioner can be quite painful if there are open lesions or cracking. Would soaking my scalp in water be better? If so, what do you think would be a useful concentration?

    Reply Permalink
  3. Also when I do apply the salt with water on the face it doesn’t seem to sting? Is that normal

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  4. Just curious what kind of moisturizer do you recommend for the hair? I have SD all over my scalp. Hair is thinning daily, it seems and very dry. I thought about using the Dead Sea Salt as a rinse in the shower but worry about it drying my hair out more than it is already. Thank you

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  5. I’ve been suffering from flaking and oozing scalp much of the summer tho it’s gotten worse in the last week. I also have patches of irritated skin on my back, face, arms, legs, feet. I did try laying on the floor and soaking my head in epson salt water in a pan.

    I researched salt water pools and a friend recommended a Salt Float company that I am planning to try in the next day or two.

    Reply Permalink