Is too much salt in your food bad for your skin?

Most of us know that too much salt can raise your blood pressure and is bad for your heart and blood vessels in the long run. And in the long run, it can also lead to kidney damage. But did you know that salt can also have an effect on your skin. Especially if you have skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis.

Salt is a compound mineral of Sodium and Chloride (NaCL) and is used to flavor or preserve food. According to the kidney foundation, 80% of our salt intake comes from processed foods and dishes. Only 20% comes from the salt shaker. Chips and salty licorice are the best-known examples, but a lot of ‘hidden’ salt also enters unnoticed through cheeses, ketchup, ready-to-eat meals, cup-a-soup, bread, meat substitutes and meat products.

The relationship between salt and skin diseases?

A study in the journal Science Translational Medicine points to a link between table salt consumption and the development of allergies and skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis.

Recent research shows that there may be a link between eating salty foods and certain skin conditions, such as eczema and allergies. The study found that table salt excites T helper (Th2) cells and produces pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-4 and IL-13, both of which are involved in the development of these skin conditions. Fortunately, there was also good news. The study also showed that these effects were reversible and diminished when the T cells were re-exposed to lower salt levels.

In other words, by eating less salt, you can better control Th2 cells and thus reduce the symptoms of eczema and allergies. You can compare it with an on and off button. By eating less salt you can, as it were, press the “off” button and switch off the inflammatory response of the Th2 cells. It is therefore important to be aware of your salt intake and to reduce it if you suffer from eczema or allergies.

What this study also discovered is that people with atopic dermatitis, a common skin condition also known as eczema, have much more salt accumulation in their skin than people without eczema. In fact, the salt content in the skin of eczema patients was 30 times higher than in people without eczema.


Accumulation of salt in the skin of eczema patients is 30 times higher compared to the skin of normal people

Salt can disrupt the balance of the microbiome on your skin. The microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that live on and in our bodies and play an important role in our health. A high concentration of salt can stimulate the growth of Staphylococcus Aureus, a certain bacteria that occurs naturally on our skin. This bacteria loves salt and can therefore multiply faster. This can lead to skin problems, such as infected eczema.

When there is an infected eczema, it is important to treat not only the eczema itself, but also the infection. Staphylococcus Aureus can cause extra irritation and inflammation and slow down the recovery of the skin. If both the eczema and the infection are not treated properly, the symptoms can persist and the skin can become damaged.


So salt cuts both ways: direct effect on your T-cells involved in eczema AND skin bacteria thrive in a salt-rich environment. More about eczema

Allergies have steadily increased in the population over the past 50 years, and past studies have identified changes in human habits and our environment as possible culprits. You could also add the fast food hypothesis to the list. Since eating fast food drastically increases your salt consumption and processed foods usually contain more salt than unprocessed foods.

Eating salt and Psoriasis

In addition, salt can also exacerbate symptoms in people with psoriasis. Several factors contribute to the onset and severity of psoriasis, a chronic skin condition characterized by inflammatory reactions and scaly, red patches of skin. One of these factors is salt intake. A recent study showed a relationship between salt in your diet and psoriasis. If the salt content is very high, the immune system is activated even more and the symptoms of psoriasis can get worse.

It’s important to note that not all people with psoriasis have the same triggers. Some people with this condition may not notice changes in their symptoms if they consume a lot of salt, while others are more sensitive to it. It is therefore always best to listen to the body and see which factors are aggravating the symptoms of psoriasis in you personally. If you have psoriasis, it may be helpful to reduce your salt intake to see if it reduces the severity of your symptoms. More about psoriasis

How much salt can you eat per day?

The Health Council advises people older than 9 years not to take more than 6 grams of salt per day.

For children aged 1-3 years, maximum: 3 grams of salt.

Children aged 4-8 years, no more than 4.5 grams of salt per day.

If you consider that a pizza of 250 grams already contains 3.28 grams of salt, a frikadel contains 1.9 grams of salt and a 250 ml cup of chicken soup contains 2.71 grams of salt.

Iconic Elements products to take care of your skin.

Salty Food, Summer Yeast, Scar Care White Spots Vitiligo Facial Massage Calming Cream Natural Moisturizer Sensitive Cream

Natural Moisturizer Cream has a 3-fold action. The combination of glycerin, ceramide, squalane and an Iconic natural balm ensure that the moisture remains in your skin. This unique composition ensures that the skin remains hydrated without feeling heavy.

Sensitive cream is suitable for people with sensitive skin or a tendency to develop skin irritation. The Sensitive cream is suitable for this group of people to keep the fragile skin optimal.

Calming cream is suitable when skin irritation, flakes, red areas are present. It is one phase further, it calms irritated skin, itching, redness.

A diet with too much salt can lead to dehydration because salt attracts and retains water, stimulating the body to remove more fluid. This process can dry out the skin, making it less supple and more prone to wrinkles.

Although there is no direct link between salt and acne, a diet containing too much salt can lead to inflammation and water retention, which can potentially worsen existing skin conditions such as acne by creating an unfavorable environment on the skin.

Yes, too much salt can contribute to skin aging. High salt intake can cause dehydration and reduce collagen production, an essential protein for skin elasticity and firmness, leading to faster development of fine lines and wrinkles.

Reducing salt intake can help improve overall skin health by improving the hydration of the body and therefore the skin. It can also help reduce inflammation and promote better moisture balance in the skin.

Try to eat fresh and whole foods, limit packaged and processed foods, read nutrition labels to identify hidden sources of salt, use herbs and spices instead of salt to season your food, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. These steps can help limit salt intake and contribute to healthier skin.

While you are here

Make nutrition part of a prevention program

As a dermatologist, I am often asked if there is a connection between diet and a skin condition. We know the relationship between vitamin C deficiency and scurvy, too little iron can cause anemia, nail abnormalities or itching complaints and zinc deficiency can lead to delayed wound healing. In recent years, more studies have been done on skin diseases such as acne, skin cancer, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea and the influence of diet. More about diet and skin diseases

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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