Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common bacterial infections that affect the urinary system, including the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. Women are at a greater risk for developing UTIs than men due to their shorter urethras.
Typical UTI symptoms include a persistent urge to urinate, a burning sensation when urinating, passing frequent, small amounts of urine, urine that appears cloudy, strong-smelling urine, pelvic pain in women, and sometimes fever.
While antibiotics are often prescribed to treat UTIs, some people turn to home remedies like Epsom Salt Bath for UTI to help relieve symptoms. But can soaking in a bath infused with Epsom salts help treat a UTI? Let’s take a closer look.
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What is an Epsom Salt Bath?
An Epsom salt bath simply refers to bathing in warm water that contains dissolved Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate. Some key things to know about Epsom salts:
- Epsom salt gets its name from the town of Epsom in England, where it was originally discovered in the water of a bitter saline spring.
- Epsom salts are made up of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen elements. They are inexpensive and commonly used for various health purposes.
- When mixed into bathwater, Epsom salts help increase the water’s mineral content, specifically providing supplemental magnesium through absorption into the skin.
- Many people use Epsom salt for many health benefits. The Epsom salt baths help reduce muscle soreness, relieve stress, help fight infection, ease hemorrhoids, heal boils, and potentially improve numerous other health conditions due to their magnesium content.
Can an Epsom Salt Bath Help Treat a UTI?
While clinical research is limited, there are some theoretical reasons why an Epsom salt bath might help provide relief for some UTI symptoms:
Potential Mechanisms of Action
There are a few ways in which soaking in an Epsom salt solution may help provide therapeutic effects for UTIs:
Magnesium Absorption as Muscle Relaxant
One of the primary benefits is that magnesium ions are absorbed through the skin while bathing. Magnesium acts as a natural muscle relaxant in the body. For UTIs that involve frequent and urgent urges to urinate, magnesium could help relax the contracted bladder and urethral muscles contributing to this discomfort.
As the Epsom salts diffuse magnesium through the skin, it enters the bloodstream and can circulate to the pelvic region. The magnesium may then bind to receptors in the bladder muscles, causing them to relax their rapid twitching and spasming. This could provide relief from the intense and frequent feelings of needing to rush to the bathroom.
Magnesium is also thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing swelling and irritation in the mucus membranes lining the bladder and urinary tract.
In addition to absorbing magnesium, the warm water itself can boost circulation to the pelvic area when soaked for 15-20 minutes. Improving blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the affected tissues in the urinary system. This enhanced delivery of healing components may help the body overcome the infection at a faster pace.
The heat also causes dilation of blood vessels, allowing vital white blood cells and antioxidants to better access the infection site to combat bacteria. In this way, an Epsom salt bath can provide direct muscle relaxation through its magnesium while also facilitating the body’s own healing capacities through improved pelvic circulation.
Analysis of Existing Research
While using Epsom salt baths to help improve UTIs shows theoretical promise, direct clinical research is still in the early phases. However, a handful of small studies have explored the impacts of magnesium solutions on UTIs, with promising results:
One 2006 study enrolled 90 pregnant women with asymptomatic UTIs taking antibiotics. Half the group soaked daily in magnesium sulfate baths for a week in addition to their medication. Follow-up testing found that UTIs were eliminated in 20% more of the women who bathed in magnesium compared to antibiotics alone.
Another pilot study in 2012 evaluated adding oral magnesium glycinate supplements to antibiotic therapy in older adults suffering from chronic UTIs. Those taking magnesium reported faster alleviation of symptoms like frequent urination and pelvic pain compared to antibiotics only.
Finally, a 2018 clinical trial investigated combining antibiotic treatment with instillation of a magnesium hydrogen carbonate solution directly into the bladder. Again, researchers observed significantly better and faster lowering of bacterial loads and symptom scores, necessitating fewer antibiotic treatment days overall.
While findings are promising, these studies looked at various forms of magnesium administration, not Epsom salt baths specifically. So while magnesium clearly has helpful impacts on UTI healing and discomfort, more targeted research isolating and evaluating the Epsom salt bathing route is still needed.
Some limitations researchers highlight in existing analyses include small sample sizes, lack of isolated Epsom salt bath arms, and minimal examination of optimal magnesium dosing concentrations specifically for UTIs.
Early results support that getting more magnesium into the body can augment antibiotic therapy for faster UTI symptom relief. However, more research confirming the benefits of absorption through Epsom salt bathing is warranted.
Benefits of an Epsom Salt Bath for UTI
Based on anecdotal evidence from those who have tried it, potential benefits of using Epsom salts for a UTI include:
- May help fight infection: One study on pregnant women with asymptomatic UTIs found that those who soaked 30 minutes a day in an Epsom salt bath for 7 days (in addition to antibiotics) were more likely to no longer show UTIs upon follow-up compared to antibiotics alone. Researchers believe magnesium may play a role.
- Reduce discomfort: The warmth of the bath may provide temporary relief of UTI pain and urgent/frequent urination. The heat helps relax pelvic muscles.
- Accelerate healing: If magnesium is indeed absorbed into the skin during a bath, it may help supplement antibiotic treatment. More research is still needed.
- Low risk: When used carefully (see safety tips below), Epsom salt baths pose little medical concerns, especially for short-term symptom relief. A good option for people looking to avoid ingesting drugs.
Step-by-Step Guide: Taking an Epsom Salt Bath for UTI Relief
If you want to harness the potential power of an Epsom salt bath to soothe UTI symptoms, consider the following tips:
- 1-2 cups Epsom Salt
- Warm bathwater
- Bath towels
- Book, music, or other relaxation aid (optional)
- Fill a clean tub with warm water at a temperature of about 92-100°F
- Add 1-2 cups Epsom salts and let dissolve completely
- Make sure the bathroom is a comfortable temperature
- Fill a clean tub with warm water – test the temperature before entering.
- Add 2 cups Epsom salt and let dissolve. Extra salt may be used if desired.
- Carefully step into the tub and slowly ease your body into the water to grow accustomed to the temperature. Sit down with water covering your hips/waist.
- Soak for at least 15 minutes up to 30 minutes, as tolerated. Set a timer if desired.
- Pass the time by reading, listening to soothing music, meditating, or simply relaxing quietly.
- When ready, carefully stand up in the tub and step out onto a towel. Pat yourself dry.
- Avoid very hot water to prevent burns
- Stay hydrated and empty your bladder beforehand
- Repeat daily or as needed for symptom relief
- Add essential oils if desired for aromatherapeutic benefits
Safety and Precautions
While generally recognized as safe for most healthy adults, there are some safety considerations regarding using Epsom salt baths to treat UTIs:
- Pregnant women should exercise caution and consult a doctor first, though some studies have used Epsom salt baths safely in pregnant women. Avoid if have a high-risk pregnancy.
- People with diabetes or heart conditions should check with a doctor first to ensure the safety of warm water soaking and Epsom salt absorption.
- Use caution getting in and out of the tub if have mobility limitations or balance issues.
- Rare skin reactions may include hives or rashes. Discontinue use if occurs.
- Interactions with magnesium-based medications are unlikely from short-term soaks, but it is best to consult a pharmacist.
When to Seek Doctor’s Advice
In general, Epsom salt baths pose very few risks when used properly for short durations. However, severe UTI cases may require antibiotic treatment as well. Seek urgent medical care if:
- UTI symptoms get worse or persist beyond 2 days
- Fever above 101°F
- Fever develops/persists for over 24 hours.
- Intense pain in back/sides: could indicate kidney infection
- Any worrying or debilitating symptoms develop
Talk to your doctor in advance using an Epsom salt bath as an adjunctive therapy in case you take other medications or supplements. Stop right away if any worrisome reactions occur.
The Bottom Line: Does An Epsom Salt Bath Really Work for UTIs?
While using an Epsom salt bath likely will not cure a UTI on its own, it shows promise as a complementary therapy to help ease symptoms and accelerate healing especially when used early after infection onset.
More studies confirming the antibacterial effects of salt baths are still needed. However, given the low-risk profile, taking an Epsom salt bath to help relieve UTI pain and discomfort is unlikely to cause harm as long as safety precautions are followed.
Just be sure to check with your doctor if UTI symptoms persist or worsen. An Epsom salt bath should never serve as a replacement for necessary antibiotic treatment in moderate-severe infections. But when used carefully under medical guidance, salt water soaks may help provide temporary relief as part of a UTI management plan.
Other Home Remedies for UTI Relief
In addition to Epsom salt baths, some other natural ways to help get relief from UTI pain and discomfort include:
- Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids helps dilute urine and flush out bacteria. Aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Other hydrating options include herbal tea, broth, and electrolyte drinks. Avoid caffeine and alcohol which can irritate the bladder.
- Apply Heat: Just like an Epsom bath, placing a warm (not hot) compress over your lower abdomen may provide comforting relief from pelvic pain and urinary urgency associated with UTIs.
- D-Mannose Supplements: Some evidence suggests the sugar compound D-mannose can help prevent bacteria from clinging to the urinary tract lining, flushing them out during urination instead. Ask your doctor about trying a supplement.
- Probiotics: Consuming extra probiotics from yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and other fermented foods helps populate your gut and urinary tract with beneficial bacteria to fight off infection-causing microbes.
- Cranberry Juice: – While Cranberry juice is touted as a go-to UTI remedy, recent reviews question its potency. Some brands contain lots of sugar. However, the berries do have antioxidant properties that may offer a little support.
- Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: – Ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or other OTC meds could temporarily relieve urethra, bladder, and abdomen discomfort.
- Natural Antibiotics: The natural antibiotics for UTI are the garlic to tea tree oil solution that can help ease UTI symptoms.
Other Healthy Uses of Epsom Salt
- Reduce Stress and Improve Mood: Soaking in an Epsom salt bath promotes relaxation and eases stress by boosting magnesium levels. Magnesium plays a key role in mood regulation and anxiety reduction. Many report feeling less stressed and more tranquil after bathing in the mineral-rich salts.
- Relief from Muscle Soreness and Cramps: The high levels of magnesium in Epsom salt offer therapeutic effects for muscle pain and cramping. It works by relaxing muscles, reducing inflammation, and improving mineral absorption. Soaking sore muscles in an Epsom salt bath can bring significant relief.
- Reduce Inflammation: Magnesium sulfate, the compound that gives Epsom salt its name, has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers. This makes it beneficial for inflammatory conditions. For localized inflammation, soaking the affected area in an Epsom salt bath can aid healing.
- Promote Restful Sleep: The calming and stress-reducing qualities of Epsom salt make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Many find soaking before bed conducive to a satisfying night’s rest. This in turn enables better health and healing.
- Overcome Magnesium Deficiencies: With its high magnesium content, Epsom salt is an excellent way to increase magnesium levels. Since magnesium deficiency is common, adding Epsom salt soaks provides needed magnesium absorption to prevent symptoms like muscle cramps, fatigue, and anxiety.
- Healing Sunburns: Sunburns benefit greatly from Epsom salt baths. The magnesium sulfate compound helps take away inflammation, discomfort, and skin irritation caused by too much sun exposure. It supports healing by lowering swelling.
- Soothes Foot Pain: The anti-inflammatory traits of Epsom salts offer relief when soaked in a foot bath. For various foot conditions like plantar fasciitis and arthritis that involve inflamed nerves and joints, Epsom salt eases Foot achiness for several hours afterward.
- Exfoliant for Skin: As an add-on to your regular skincare routine, Epsom salt provides exfoliation to reveal fresh new skin. The salt’s coarse texture sloughs off dull skin cells and unclogs pores as it circulates in bath water.
- Healing Boils: The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions of Epsom salt may help bring boils to a head. By softening the skin tissue and allowing drainage, it quickens healing time. The minerals get absorbed to fight infection too.
- Relief from Hemorrhoids: The soothing, anti-inflammatory relief Epsom salt provides lends itself useful for inflamed hemorrhoids. It can decrease swelling, discomfort, and bleeding when added to a sitz bath. Many report significant relief from soaking in this mineral-rich solution.
Urinary tract infections affect millions yearly and cause unpleasant symptoms like pelvic pain and frequent urination.
While antibiotic medications remain the gold standard treatment approach, some people look to home remedies like Epsom salt baths for complementary symptom relief given the low risks.
Early research shows promising results, with one study finding greater UTI improvement rates when Epsom salt baths were paired with antibiotics compared to antibiotics alone. However, more studies confirming the antibacterial mechanism of Epsom salts are still needed.
In general, taking 15-30 minute soaks in bathwater infused with Epsom salts is unlikely to cause harm and may help temporarily ease discomfort for mild UTIs when safety precautions are followed.
However medical provider guidance is still recommended, especially for moderate-severe infections requiring antibiotics.
Ultimately, salty bathwater probably will not miraculously cure an active UTI, but it may provide a low-risk way to help manage annoying symptoms.
Noble Home Remedies relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for accuracy and reliability while avoiding tertiary references. Our editorial policy provides more information about how we ensure our content is accurate and up-to-date.
- Epsom salt
- Epsom salts and Urinary tract infection – a phase IV clinical study of FDA data
- Is Epsom Salt Bath Good For Urinary Tract Infection?
- Does Epsom Salt Help with Uti?
- Increased fluid intake to prevent urinary tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis
- Urinary tract infection is associated with hypokalemia: a case-control study