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Written by:  Katherine Kopp
Date: June 1, 2011

If your child is plagued by poison ivy, sunburn or a bee sting this summer, you may want to consider an old-fashioned remedy that can help soothe the itch: Epsom salt. Epsom salt can help draw the moisture out of lesions caused by rashes, such as poison ivy, reducing itching. With bites or stings, Epsom salt alleviates swelling, which in turn reduces the itching sensation. Here are some ways to reduce itching and swelling with Epsom salt: *   Make a compress by soaking a cotton washcloth in cold water that has been mixed with Epsom salt (two tablespoons per cup). Apply to the skin.

*    Create a paste of two teaspoons of Epsom salt to one cup of hot water until it dissolves. Chill for 20 minutes in the refrigerator and apply to the affected area of skin. Be sure to clean the skin and pat dry before applying the paste.

*    Take an Epsom salt bath by adding two cups of Epsom salt to the water in a standard-sized tub and soak for at least 12 to 15 minutes. The Epsom salt will dissolve more quickly under running water while filling the bathtub.

Other "kitchen cabinet remedies" include baking soda pastes and oatmeal baths, both time-tested and inexpensive ways to reduce itching from stings, rashes and sunburn. For more information, visit www.epsomsaltcouncil.org.

Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer with a special interest in health and medicine. She and her husband are the parents of three daughters.



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