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Epsom Salt Diabetes: Why is Epsom Salt Dangerous to Diabetics?

Diagnosed with diabetes? Terrified? Not necessary. Diabetes is a completely manageable disease. But there are some days that are just rough. Never give up! You can win against it easily with proper care and sincerity. In case of diabetics it is very important to choose every step very cautiously. One wrong step can exaggerate the condition and lead to complication. Starting from the diet chart to your foot care – all should be under the guidance of your physician.

My article, today, is mainly to give you an insight on use of Epsom salt for your foot care if you are a diabetic. Is Epsom salt safe for your delicate foot skin?

NO! Actually it’s not!

Okay let’s dig into the topic directly.

Epsom salt – What is it?

Magnesium sulphate is the other name of Epsom salt. It is a mineral compound which is a common home remedy and comes with different uses. Generally people use it by adding into tubs or baths and soak in. So it’s known as ‘bath salt’.  Theory behind this is that magnesium gets absorbed in the body through skin. However, this claim is not approved by any authentic study.

If you don’t have any special condition like diabetes, it does no harm and you are free to use it as magnesium supplement. But diabetics! Be alert! This is not something safe for you to use.

How is Epsom salt beneficial?

Hey! Did you think that Epsom salt is a useless harmful thing? No obviously it’s not.

Epsom salt has many beauty benefits along with working as a remedy for a number of ailments. You might get recommended to use it for such cases:

  • Works as magnesium supplement for those who have deficiency and do not consume enough magnesium orally.
  • Helps in the production of melatonin that promotes sleep. It also triggers brain to produce neurotransmitters that reduce stress and induce sleep.
  • Minimizing sore and relieving cramps are another two most talked advantages of Epsom salt. It is said to soothe muscle aches, reduce arthritis pain and headache while you relax soaking your body in hot water containing Epsom salt.
  • Beneficial in removing splinters.
  • Helps to flush out dangerous toxins from body and hence promotes detoxification.
  • You can also get relief from sunburn using this.
  • It is again responsible for drawing water into your colon that increases the bowel movement and helps to treat constipation.

Diabetic? Turn away from Epsom salt

Living in a society, you might get recommended to use certain things to keep your blood glucose under control. But use your wit! Don’t believe any advice blindly other than your doctor. Research yourself before following anything.

Epsom salt is said to be helpful in reducing the blood sugar level. Someone might say: “Hey, take a bath with Epsom salt. You will see it’s positive impact on diabetes.” Another may say: “It’s very relaxing to soak your feet in the Epsom salt water. Try this out at once!”

But get this straight. You SHOULD NOT listen to any advice like this.

Why? It’s because:

If you are a diabetic, you are definitely taking medicine to maintain normal blood sugar level. So when you will take an Epsom salt bath additionally, magnesium will get absorbed in the body which will increase the release of insulin and ultimately lead to hypoglycaemia.

Now, why not just soaking your feet?

Diabetes makes the skin of your feet dry and reduces the moisture level. When you are soaking your leg, you are just adding more dryness to your already parched skin. However, this can then lead to small cracks in your feet and allow micro-organisms to invade causing infection. And infections will be leading to different diabetic foot problems. So, it is advisable not to use Epsom salt at all without consulting with the doctor.

Controversies!

Here begins the debate! Which boat to sail on?

Though there are many logics behind not using Epsom salt as a home remedy of diabetes, it is not free from argument. There are claims regarding the positive influence of Epsom salt in diabetes.

Let’s take a look at them too!

  • Epsom salt works as home remedy for diabetes as it helps in reducing the blood sugar level by increasing insulin release.
  • Type 2 diabetics are said to have magnesium deficiency. So it works as magnesium supplement.
  • With the passing days, the number of medicine of a diabetic patient also keeps increasing. But if Epsom salt can keep your blood sugar levels low, then you might get free from burden of countless medicines.
  • It may also help you reduce the feet pain and swelling.

How to use it?

Take two gallons of warm water and add half cup Epsom salt in it. And then soak your feet in the mixture for 30 to 40 minutes.

In case you are having side effects like breathing difficulty, swelling in face, lips and tongue or diarrhoea, you should immediately stop Epsom salt soak.

What to do?

Bewildered? Isn’t the situation foggy? I know it is!

From my personal knowledge and different studies, I would recommend not to use Epsom salt soaks. In this advanced world diabetes is a manageable disease. There are many improved and scientifically proven technologies regarding the treatment of diabetes. So why choose a non-scientific solution over the scientific ones in today’s science based world? Again, the benefits of Epsom salt in case of diabetes do not have a strong base. However, considering the logical analysis of the side effects of Epsom salt, it is better to avoid it completely.

Diabetes and foot complications

Now that you already know clash between Epsom salt and diabetes, I will add some more knowledge to your existing one. It’s about the diabetic foot complications.

Generally, diabetic people are fragile by nature. They are always in risk of developing complications which may start hampering their daily life. Such type of one adverse condition is foot problems. Here’s a detailed discussion of them:

  • Cracked and dry skin:

Diabetics tend to have dry skin in peripheral zones like feet due to the damage in the nerves controlling skin oil and moisture of that place. Soaking in hot water containing Epsom salt for a prolonged period can open up small cracks present, permitting the entrance of germs. These germs may become the reason behind different severe infections. So, though hot tub foot soak sounds relaxing, it is kind of forbidden for the diabetics.

  • Wounds:

It is not unlikely to get a small wound in the feet. But as a diabetic you need to be careful because diabetes allows poor blood supply in this region by narrowing the blood vessels resulting in delayed healing of the wounds. This condition is known as peripheral artery disease. So be aware of wound like a small cut because obviously you don’t want to face worse situations.

  • Infections:

High blood sugar is a strong opponent of your immune system. It gradually lowers the weakens the immune system and decreases it’s ability to combat infections. As a result the healing process is also very slow.

The common problems causing infection are:

  • Blisters
  • Bunions
  • Hammertoe
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Calluses and corns
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Fungal infection

Initially these problems are not that serious but if not treated properly it may end in gangrene and that’s when the doctor may give you a bad news stating the requirement of amputation of limb to avoid potential spread.

Other than these, drawbacks like collapsed arches and hammertoes can obstruct your normal walking and balance.

Now, you need to know that you will have to check your feet regularly. Why is it? Can’t you feel if you have any problem? NO! Sometimes you can’t. Because diabetes can disable your heat, cold or pain sensation in the legs and feet. But this is not a confirm case for all. Many diabetics never face this situation in their entire lifetime.  However, it’s always good to be conscious. So, look for the following symptoms:

  • Pus
  • Redness
  • Warm skin

Besides these you may feel pain, discomfort and have fever when you develop infection.

  • Peripheral neuropathy:

Damage of the nerves is one of the most common issues seen in the diabetic patients. This occurs due to high blood sugar level and is known as neuropathy.

Usually, diabetes is seen to affect the nerves of arms and legs and make these places numb and sensitivity less. About one third to one half people with diabetes worldwide suffer from peripheral neuropathy.

Symptoms include:

  • Burning sensation or tingling in the feet.
  • Numbness in the toes.
  • Feeling sharp pain in the feet which worsens at night.
  • Ulcers and deformities of foot
  • Muscle weakness

Take care of your sensitive foot

When you learn about your diabetes, don’t lose hope. Rather learn to love yourself even more. That’s how you can win against the odds.

As I said earlier you must be very watchful of your feet as this is the part of your body which bears the highest stress. And also generally remains the most uncared.

But now it’s time to keep your feet healthy and happy. Of course not by soaking into Epsom salt!

Here are some other ways:

  • Stay tidy: Whatever happens cleanliness is a must. Clean your feet with mild soap and lukewarm water by rubbing it gently. But don’t soak it. It is better to avoid any other chemicals and fragrances as they can dry out your skin.
  • Dry your feet: Remove the water from your feet after cleaning it. Don’t fail to remember the toe cleavage. It’s a party place for fungus! You can consider using medicated foot powder between your toes if you have sweating toes.
  • Remove the calluses: Whittle down the rough patches by using Pumice stones. Keep away from cutting corns or bursting blisters as they invite germs causing infection. Also avoid any type of corn plasters or liquid corn removers without consulting with the doctor.
  • Use moisturizer: As diabetes dries out the skin of your feet, a lotion might be of help in this case. Avoid using them between the toes as it may leave the place moist.
  • Use comfortable footwear: Be careful about choosing the perfectly fitting socks and shoes. Tight shoes may lead to additional problems by creating pressure points. Also hampers the already inadequate blood circulation. Personally, I find Hush puppies and Dr. Comfort provide with most comfortable shoes. And try to find seamless, moisture-wicking, breathable and padded socks. Moreover, don’t roam around bare footed. This increases the risk of pebbles or other hard substance to rub against your feet and create sore. Also check the shoes before wearing to see if there’s any unwanted substance inside.
  • Heft up your feet: Use a stool to keep your feet, while sitting down. This helps in proper blood flow and also you can’t deny that it’s super relaxing. Besides this, try not to sit continuously for a long time and walk regularly for at least 30 minutes.
  • Snip the toenails: Long nails can become a storehouse of different kinds of germs. So cut your nails straight across but don’t make them too short. See a doctor if you notice ingrown toenail.
  • Keep under daily surveillance: Take a glance at your feet everyday for cuts, blisters, sores, blemishes and bruises.
  • Maintain a soothing temperature: Avoid using too hot or too cold water while washing your feet. Keep the temperature at ‘baby bear level’. And also don’t forget to apply sunscreen while wearing sandals.

Cling to the above mentioned tips. You can surely fend off diabetic foot problems! But again, if you notice any irritation, wound or crack see a doctor without delay. Anti-biotic cream or other treatments prescribed by the doctor will save you from further complications.

Know the procedure

It is important to know the proper procedure step by step in order to avoid any kind of extra inconveniences.

Go through the procedure below:

You can follow this simple procedure daily unless your doctor has recommended otherwise. I’m sure you will find it monotonous to follow this everyday. But I would promptly encourage you not to be lazy in this case. Get up and scare away the invaders!

.FAQ

  1. Is foot soak allowed if I have diabetes?

Not only Epsom soak, all kind of soaks are forbidden in case of diabetic patients. The American Diabetes Association discourages it, as wet foot is more vulnerable to damages. Moreover, use of too hot water tends to make your feet dry.

  1. What should I do if I’m habituated to Epsom salt soaking?

If you are diagnosed with diabetes recently and is habituated with Epsom salt soaks beforehand, then it is high time you should think twice before soaking your feet again. Keep this in mind that earlier you were not that vulnerable which you are now. Don’t take any pressure though! But make up your mind that, with time, you will have to get rid of it completely. So, start reducing it gradually from the moment you are diagnosed.

  1. It is allowed to soak feet in cold water to get relief from burning sensation in the feet?

No, it is also not allowed. Cold water soaks may also harm you by hampering the proper blood circulation through your feet.

Conclusion:

“Keep your head up. God gives His hardest battles to His strongest soldiers” – all the diabetics out there, remember this always!

As diabetes is a chronic disease, you need to keep your energy high and fight with it throughout your life. Your physician is your best friend. So, always inform your doctor before you start using something new. Also, you can self-study to earn knowledge about your condition. It feels amazing when you can relate with your doctor even being a non-medic!

I hope this article will help you to understand the proper relation between diabetes and Epsom salt clearly and wash out all kinds of confusion from your mind. Don’t feel sick because you are not! You are just having a special clinical condition!

I'm a medical student from Bangladesh. Along the path of my life, medical science has always entranced and enticed me through it's continuous advancement. I believe being health conscious and having a wholesome lifestyle should be our utmost priority. Being a medical student, I like to share my opinions and views on different aspects of medical science in order to enlighten people with knowledge and to motivate them to become aware of their own health condition. We all need to remember that health comes first! So, I hope that my work will help out and benefit people and assist them to remain hale and hearty in their daily life. Zahin Ibnat MBBS (3rd year) Armed Forces Medical College, Bangladesh