The Dead Sea has long been a place of pilgrimage for people with skin conditions such as psoriasis. The beneficial effect of the Dead Sea area in psoriasis is attributed in part to the Dead Sea water, which has a high content of minerals. The Dead Sea water is rich in many minerals such as magnesium, sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride and bromide etc. While other seas contain these minerals, they do not have the same high concentrations as Dead Sea water.
The water has moisturising properties, especially because of the high concentration of magnesium, which helps the skin retain water1.
In 30 patients with severe psoriasis, the effect of daily baths of 20 minutes for three weeks with added Dead Sea salt was compared with common salt2. The study showed that both treatments reduced psoriasis severity, but that the group with added Dead Sea salt showed better improvements, and also had reduced severity one month after the treatment ended.
Other studies have shown that the combination of Dead Sea salt balneotherapy (bathing) and phototherapy (exposure for UVB) have a great benefit on psoriatic lesions3. One study clearly points to the phototherapy aspect of this combination as the most important factor, but a specific contribution of Dead Sea water balneotherapy was also found4.
Furthermore, in one study that looked into skin biopsies of psoriatic patients before and after undergoing Dead Sea water balneotherapy and phototherapy, a significant reduction in the number of activated T-lymphocytes in the outer skin layers (depletion of more than 90% of CD3 and CD25 cells) and in the dermis (depletion of 69.4% of CD3 and of 77.4% CD25 cells) were found in people with moderate to severe plaque-type psoriasis5.
The concentration of an ingredient is important for its efficacy, and therefore products containing the same ingredient may not necessarily have the same effect as in the studies mentioned above.
Updated: July 2017