Does Dead Sea Salt help with Vitiligo

Does Dead Sea salt help with Vitiligo (Leucoderma)?

I would say- Yes, it is beneficial to bath in Dead sea’s highly saline water when combined with a healthy diet, positive lifestyle, stress management and intelligent use of dietary supplements and natural herbs. Bathing in Dead sea alone will not do much for you. Also, you need not to get demotivated if you can’t afford to take a flight and visit the Dead Sea. You can buy Dead Sea salt, simply dissolve it in the bathtub and enjoy a soaking bath at the luxury of your own bathroom. Some people experience skin re-pigmentation by simply applying Dead Sea salt lotion on the vitiligo affected skin as well.

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In this article, I would try to explain that why the Dead Sea is considered as a panacea for many skin problems and how worthy it is exactly for vitiligo.

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Benefits of Dead Sea treatment for Vitiligo

Benefits of Dead Sea salt for Vitiligo are due to 2 S’s – Salt and Sunlight.

Salt– The Dead Sea water is rich in beneficial minerals that have many therapeutic benefits. The salt concentration in Dead Sea is more than 10 times higher than any ordinary sea. (1)

Not only the salt concentration is higher, but the salt quality is also superior.

The ordinary sea salt has more than 97% sodium chloride- sodium chloride is nothing but the table salt that we add in our food stuffs. On the other hand, the sodium chloride content in Dead Sea salt is just 30% and it contains many other dried minerals and salts with therapeutic benefits. (2, 3)

Dead Sea salt composition Vitiligo Leucoderma

During bathing in Dead sea, these minerals enter your body through the skin pores to reduce autoimmunity and improve skin health. The magnesium-rich Dead Sea water reduces the level of hydrogen peroxide in epidermis (outermost layer of skin) to reduce oxidative stress and stimulate melanin production. The therapeutic benefits of Dead Sea salts are:

  • Reduction in oxidative stress
  • Reduction in inflammation
  • Skin detox
  • Liver detox
  • Optimum digestion
  • Skin hydration
  • Skin pH balancing
  • Anti-ageing
  • Increased cell metabolism
  • Anti-allergic

Sunlight– Being the lowest point on the earth, Dead Sea enjoys a natural filter (screen) from burning (UVB) rays that allows long duration of sunbathing with almost no risk of sunburn.

The vitiligo treatment at the Dead Sea involves bathing in Dead Sea followed by controlled exposure to sunlight. This treatment protocol is known as Dead Sea Climatotherapy.

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Therapeutic benefits of Dead sea salt

  • Magnesium– Magnesium concentration in Dead Sea is 15 times higher than any other sea. In case of vitiligo, due to oxidative stress, the hydrogen peroxide level in the skin remains at a high level. (4) Magnesium can help bring it down to the normal. Also, it promotes optimum cell metabolism and relieves stress and muscular pain. It has anti-ageing and anti-allergic activity as well. Higher concentration of magnesium along with bromide accelerates skin detox to reduce inflammation.
  • Chlorides– It helps to maintain optimum stomach acid which is vital for proper digestion of the food and healthy gut functioning. Also, helps to maintain optimum skin pH.
  • Bromides– It is a natural antibiotic with anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory effect. It works in tandem with magnesium to reduce inflammation and improve skin elasticity.
  • Sulfates– Sulfur stimulates bile flow to reduce liver congestion, aids in fat metabolism and gently cleanses the skin off harmful microbes as it got antibacterial activity. (5)
  • Calcium– Reduces the problem of fluid retention, improves blood circulation and unclogs skin pores for smooth elimination of toxins from the body.
  • Sodium– It is an essential electrolyte that helps in proper digestion and absorption of food nutrients, fluid balance, blood pressure, heart functioning and muscles contraction and relaxation.
  • Potassium– Another essential electrolyte that helps in skin hydration, fluid balance, pH balance and other benefits similar to sodium.

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How it works- Dead Sea for Vitiligo

During bathing in Dead Sea, the process of reverse osmosis takes place. The dead skin cells, bacteria and dirt are thrown out of your skin and at the same time, all the beneficial minerals and salts enter your body through the skin pores to provide below benefits:

  • Skin detox– Gentle skin exfoliation unclogs the skin pores to get rid of toxins.
  • Reduces oxidative stress– The therapeutic minerals along with warm water increases the blood circulation rate to accelerate the body metabolism and infuses fresh oxygen throughout the body cells to counter the oxidative stress and autoimmunity.
  • Skin hydration and moisture management– Thanks to the high magnesium content, Dead sea water deeply hydrates the skin and improves skin barrier function. (6) The magnesium salts help bind water so that the skin doesn’t get dried too quickly.
  • Anti-ageing– The naturally occurring skin proteins- collagen and elastic- provide firmness and shape to your skin. The minerals rich dead sea salt stimulates renewal and repair of these vital skin proteins to tackle the skin ageing symptoms like wrinkles and sagging. (7)
  • Relieves stress– Stress is a universal trigger for all autoimmune disorders including vitiligo. Bathing in dead sea relieves muscles pain, joint stiffness, promotes relaxation and improve sleep quality. It has an anti-arthritis effect as well. (8, 9)
  • Anti-microbial effect– Just like the aquatic animals, any sort of fungus, bacteria or germ of your skin will also die in this highly saline water. That’s why, people with Candida skin infection (fungal skin infection) witness wonderful results with Dead Sea salt based bathing bars.

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Research evidences- Dead Sea salt for Vitiligo

People with vitiligo constitute the third largest group of people visiting the Dead Sea to treat their chronic skin conditions. (10) The benefits of Dead sea salt are well documented for two major autoimmune skin conditions- psoriasis and eczema. (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 6) These two skin issues are characterized by skin dryness, itching, inflammation and loose skin scales falling off the skin. Bathing in Dead Sea provides relief in these symptoms from the very first session itself.

Luckily, vitiligo is quite free from these symptoms except for mild itching and burning sensation if vitiligo patches are exposed to sunlight for a long time. Still, bathing in Dead Sea helps by stimulating the production of melanocytes (pigment producing skin cells) to promote skin re-pigmentation.

I could find below case studies observing the benefits of Dead Sea salt for vitiligo:

  • A total of 436 people with vitiligo were treated with Dead Sea Climatotherapy over a period of 8 years. As per the results, 4% of patients observed significant repigmentation, 81% had good repigmentation, 13% experienced no repigmentation but their vitiligo marks became pink (early signs of the repigmentation), and just 2% didn’t demonstrate any effect at all. (16)
  • Another clinical study conducted in 1994 involved 102 patients; administered Dead Sea Climatotherapy for 4 to 6 weeks. Among them, 11% observed excellent repigmentation results, 82% had visible improvement in their skin, 6% had moderate improvement and 10% didn’t experience any improvement at all. (17)
  • According to a review published in the health journal- Dermatology and Dermatologic Diseases, Sept 2014- Dead Sea Climatotherapy is a safe treatment option for vitiligo without any serious long term side effects. (18)
  • A clinical study performed by Dr Schallreuter and his team concluded that Dead Sea Climatotherapy brings long term improvement in the quality of life of people with vitiligo. The improvement in the skin condition lasted even after 1 year of the treatment. (19)
  • Another review published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, Vol 77, 2011, discussed the benefits of Dead Sea salts to treat vitiligo symptoms. (10)

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How to use Dead Sea salt at home

Here, it is quite clear that bathing in Dead sea followed by sunbathing is largely beneficial for vitiligo. Most of the people enjoy significant re-pigmentation. There are numerous hotels and resorts on the shores of Dead Sea with spa and medical facilities to help the visitors. For good results, you can plan a trip of 3-4 weeks depending upon your skin condition. Dead Sea Climatotherapy comprises of bathing in Dead Sea twice a week, followed by controlled sunbathing.

However, the cost of travel, long distance and treatment time makes it impractical for many people. In that case, it is economical to buy Dead Sea salt and create a sort of Dead Sea bathing environment at the comfort of your bathrooms.

Let us understand the step by step process of enjoying Dead Sea salt bath at home:

Prepare the Soaking bath– Fill your bathtub with warm water- it should be warm and comfortable to touch. Too hot water would be counterproductive as it can deplete the moisture from your skin to cause skin dryness. Also, hot water can cause skin redness and inflammation- similar to sunburn. Dissolve 2 cups (1 pound /500 grams) of Dead Sea salt in the bathtub. Now, enter the bathtub and soak for 20 minutes.

You may add below additives in the soaking bath for enhanced results:

  • Ginger- Add 1 inch of grated ginger in the bathtub. It would stimulate sweating for better skin detox.
  • Tea tree oil– Add a few drops of tea tree oil to reduce skin inflammation (burning sensation) and improve the antimicrobial effect.
  • Baking soda- 2 teaspoons of baking soda to relieve itching.
  • Lavender essential oil- A few drops of lavender essential oil for relaxation and stress relief.

After soaking, have a light shower (rinse) to remove the salt traces off your skin. Don’t use any soap or shower gel- plain water would serve the purpose.

Then dry your skin with a soft towel and apply a natural moisturizer. Virgin coconut oil is the best natural moisturizer- makes your skin soft and supple, antimicrobial in natural, a natural sunscreen, non-sticky, smells good and economical. I have already written a detailed article explaining the benefits of virgin coconut oil for vitiligo.

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Controlled exposure to sunlight– Sunbathing is very important after the soaking bath. Wear necessary clothes and try to expose maximum possible body areas to sunlight. Avoid synthetics- wear lightweight clothing made from cotton or rayon as they have better moisture management so that sweating doesn’t bother you. Start with 10 minutes per session and gradually increase it to 15-20 minutes as per your comfort.

If you can’t tolerate sun rays due to burning sensation, then you may add a few drops of tea tree oil in the skin moisturizer (virgin coconut oil) for anti-inflammatory effect. Some people rate aloe vera gel as the best body moisturizer to tackle the mild sunburn symptoms.

That’s it! You are done

Frequency of Dead Sea soaking bath

As soaking bath should be followed by sunbathing, so, it depends on your daily schedule. If not everyday, then do it 2-3 times a week for 10 to 12 weeks and observe the results.

Soaking bath frequency should not exceed once a day.

Dead Sea salt and Vitiligo

I don’t have a bathtub, what to do?

As explained earlier, Dead Sea Climatotherapy includes bathing (or soaking) in Dead Sea water followed by sunbathing. But, if you don’t have a bathtub and want to give it a try, then try applying Dead Sea mineral lotion on the affected skin and expose to the sun as in case of soaking bath. Don’t worry, I will provide the complete guide to buy a good quality Dead Sea lotion at the end of this article.

What about the Black mud of Dead Sea

Black mud is collected from the bottom of the Dead sea. It contains minerals along with natural tar and silica. It is highly beneficial for routine skin problems- gently exfoliates the skin and removes dead skin cells and toxins to unclog the skin pores to treat acne, blackheads and wrinkles. It hydrates the skin well to treat skin dryness and itching.

But, 20% of the black mud is silica which doesn’t offer much help to stimulate melanocytes production. (2, 20) Also, the concentration of magnesium, the critical mineral to reduce oxidative stress, is way too less in black mud than the salt. Thus, I would prefer Dead Sea salt over the mud to treat vitiligo.

Pseudocatalase cream and Dead Sea salt for Vitiligo

Catalase is a naturally occurring enzyme in the human body that protects body cells from oxidative stress by reducing the level of hydrogen peroxide. It decomposes hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. In case of vitiligo, the low level of catalase in the epidermis is considered as a major factor for the disease because it results in high level of hydrogen peroxide to cause oxidative stress and trigger autoimmunity. (17)

The pseudocatalase cream when applied on the affected skin, provides ‘catalase type effect’ to counter oxidative stress by reducing the level of hydrogen peroxide.

According to a clinical trial published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Aug 2002, application of pseudocatalase cream in combination with Dead Sea Climatotherapy brings faster re-pigmentation results than using Dead Sea Climatotherapy alone. (21) This improvement is attributed to the low level of hydrogen peroxide in the epidermis. Here, it is worth mentioning that Dead Sea salt itself is quite effective in reducing the epidermal hydrogen peroxide levels, however, pseudocatalase cream further enhances this effect.

Hence, if you are using Dead Sea salt soaking baths at home, you may try pseudocatalase cream instead of a body moisturizer and enjoy sunbathing.

Pseudocatalase cream Dead Sea salt Vitiligo

From where to buy- Dead Sea salt, Lotion and pseudocatalase cream

  • Dead Sea salt (For soaking bath)

You can easily buy a bag of Dead Sea salt at Amazon. Always buy in bulk as it would be economical. Check the below links to get some discounts:

If you are from USA, click here to buy

If you are from India, click here to buy

If you are from UK, click here to buy

Note: Some people try Epsom salt (Magnesium sulfate) for soaking bath instead of Dead Sea salt as it is cheaper and easily available in departmental stores. But, as the chemical formula suggests, Epsom salt provides only magnesium and sulfate whereas Dead Sea salt provides whole range of therapeutic minerals. Also, Dead Sea salt is widely researched and found effective for vitiligo treatment.

  • Dead Sea mineral lotion

If you can’t afford soaking bath, apply the lotion and expose the skin area to sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes, preferably twice a day. Check below links to buy Dead Sea mineral lotion of reputed brand with excellent user reviews.

If you are from USA, click here to buy

If you are from India, click here to buy

If you are from UK, click here to buy

  • Pseudocatalase Cream

It is costly, but, if you want to try, then check it out at Amazon:

If you are from USA, click here to buy

If you are from India, click here to buy

I couldn’t find this product at Amazon UK.

Have I missed something?

If you have any more questions in mind, please send me at [email protected] and I will share my opinion.

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