How to use a baking soda bath

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Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a household staple with many different uses, including baking. Adding baking soda to a bath may help detox the body or relieve itching, irritation, or infections.

In this article, we look at the benefits of a baking soda bath and how taking one may help. We also examine some other types of detox baths and their uses.

What is a baking soda bath?

Baking soda for bath in wooden bowl with wooden spoon
Baking soda has a range of uses and is popular as a home remedy for many conditions.

Baking soda is a mixture of sodium ions and bicarbonate ions. It dissolves fully in water and is commonly added to oral hygiene and cleaning products, as it may help remove bacteria, odors, and acidity. These properties may also be helpful for the skin, especially if a person has certain skin conditions.

Even without adding baking soda to the water, soaking in a warm bath may have valuable therapeutic properties by warming a person’s muscles and helping them relax after a stressful day.

A warm or hot bath can also promote sweating, which may help the body release toxins from the pores.

Ten benefits of a baking soda bath

A baking soda bath can be beneficial for many conditions, including:

1. Yeast infections

Many people experience yeast infections, but some symptoms, such as itching and swelling, can often make it difficult for a person to go about their daily activities. A baking soda bath may relieve symptoms and help a person recover faster.

One study found that baking soda helped kill Candida cells, which are the fungal cells responsible for yeast infections.

2. Fungal skin and nail infections

Research suggests that baking soda may be a useful as an antifungal agent against many of the fungal strains that commonly infect human skin and nails.

People with the nail fungus onychomycosis, which causes thick, discolored, or crumbly nails, may find relief from regularly soaking their hands or feet in a baking soda bath.

However, anyone with a fungal infection should ask their doctor if a baking soda bath could help relieve symptoms.

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3. Eczema

Eczema causes dry, itchy, and inflamed patches of skin to develop on the body during flare-ups. These areas may be so itchy that a person scratches and breaks the skin, leaving it prone to infection and making symptoms worse.

Baking soda may help prevent eczema flare-ups or reduce symptoms in some people. Adding ¼ to ½ cup of baking soda to a warm bath may help soothe itchy skin.

It is important to pat the skin dry and moisturize immediately after the bath.

4. Psoriasis

Like eczema, medicated baths may be helpful for people with psoriasis. People managing psoriasis symptoms often use oatmeal baths to reduce inflammation.

Adding ½ cup of baking soda to an oatmeal bath may further reduce irritation and itchiness.

It is essential for someone with psoriasis to moisturize their skin immediately after drying off with a towel, as hot water can dry out the skin further.

5. Poison ivy, poison oak, or sumac

A poison ivy rash on a person's arm.
A baking soda bath may treat rashes from poison ivy or similar toxic plants.

Baking soda may also promote the healing of rashes caused by touching poisonous plants. Taking a bath is usually a good idea after touching toxic plants, as bathing may help prevent the skin from absorbing the oils that cause a rash.

A bath may also help prevent these oils from spreading to other areas of the body or another person.

Baking soda can soothe the inflamed skin and reduce irritation and itching. Soaking in a lukewarm tub with ½ to 1 cup of baking soda may help reduce symptoms. Adding oatmeal to the bath can also ease itching.

6. Urinary tract infection (UTI)

A UTI causes pain and burning while urinating, a condition caused by extra acidity in the urinary tract.

Although a baking soda bath will not change the acidity of the urine, it may reduce pain and discomfort when used alongside doctor-prescribed antibiotics. Add ¼ cup of baking soda to the bath and soak for 15 to 30 minutes.

7. Diaper rash

The damp, warm conditions in a diaper make it the perfect place for germs to multiply. This can cause a red rash on the skin called a diaper rash. The infant’s skin may also become irritated due to constant friction from the diaper.

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A baking soda bath can help gently remove the irritating germs and soothe sensitive skin.

For babies and small children, it is essential only to use a minimal amount of baking soda, as the dissolved baking soda may be absorbed through the skin.

Using 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a small, lukewarm bath and soaking the affected area for 10 minutes is enough for relief in most cases.

8. Chickenpox

The constant itching and irritation caused by chickenpox can feel like torture for many people, especially children.

A baking soda bath may provide the relief they need. Adding 1 to 2 cups of baking soda to a lukewarm bath and soaking for up to 20 minutes, three times a day can help provide relief.

Adding ingredients such as oatmeal or chamomile tea may also reduce symptoms.

9. Vulva irritation

Some women commonly experience irritation and itching around the vulva.

Adding ¼ cup of baking soda to a bath and soaking for 15 to 20 minutes, three times daily may help reduce symptoms in some women.

10. Constipation and hemorrhoids

A baking soda bath may help relieve the itching and pain caused by constipation or hemorrhoids.

A ¼ cup of baking soda added to a warm bath may be enough to relieve symptoms.

Detox baths

Even without an underlying condition to treat, a baking soda bath may be a helpful way to promote detoxification.

To do this, mix ½ cup of baking soda with ½ cup of Epsom salts and add the mixture to a warm bath.

People may also wish to add medicinal herbs or essential oils, such as eucalyptus, to help the body sweat and detox.

How to use a baking soda bath

Bath supplies in bowl on top of towels, including loofah, scrub, skin brush.
Using a loofah or body brush to gently exfoliate the skin beforehand may make a baking soda bath more effective.

To make a baking soda bath, add between ¼ to 2 cups of baking soda to warm bath water and stir it around to let it dissolve.

Once the baking soda has completely dissolved, soak in the tub for up to 40 minutes. After the bath, pat the skin dry with a towel and use a natural oil or lotion to moisturize the skin.

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Other tips for before and after the bath include:

  • creating a relaxing environment by using candlelight or soft music
  • using a dry scrub, loofah, or body brush before the bath to help shed dead skin cells
  • using lukewarm to warm water if a hot water dries out the skin
  • using mild soap and warm water to rinse away any toxins left on the skin
  • putting on clean clothes after a bath to avoid additional environmental toxins

Risks and considerations

Baking soda baths are typically safe. However, dissolved baking soda can be absorbed into the skin, and some groups of people should avoid baking soda baths, such as those who:

  • have high blood pressure
  • have serious infections or open wounds
  • are prone to fainting
  • have diabetes
  • are pregnant or nursing
  • are allergic to baking soda
  • are currently using drugs or alcohol

Some people may react poorly to baking soda, so it is recommended to test the effects on a small patch of skin at least 24 hours before taking a baking soda bath.

Other types of detox baths

There are many other natural ingredients people can use in a detox bath, including:

  • sea salt
  • Epsom salt
  • apple cider vinegar
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • clay

Baking soda is sometimes added to salt baths to help support their effects, but it is important to discuss this with a healthcare professional first.

Other uses for baking soda

When not being used in a bath, people can also use baking soda for:

  • teeth whitening
  • skin exfoliation
  • deodorant
  • foot soak
  • dry scalp relief

Takeaway

As with any treatment, it is imperative to talk to a doctor before using baking soda baths to treat an underlying health condition.

Doctors may want to monitor how the skin reacts; they might also be able to offer safety tips or recommend some alternative treatments to try. Anyone with symptoms that do not improve or get worse should contact a doctor.

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