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Magnesium sulfate paste

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Magnesium sulfate paste is a medication used as a drawing agent. Magnesium sulfate came into medical use as early as 1618 when a cow herder named Henry Wicker discovered magnesium sulfate and its use as a laxative. This was used for 350 years. Nowadays, it is used in Epsom bath salts and as a dehydrated paste used as a drawing agent.

How does it work?

Primarily, magnesium sulfate paste is used as a drawing ointment for boils and carbuncles. However, it can also be used to draw out splinters and other fine objects which pierce the skin and are irretrievable via manual extraction. The paste is not suitable for use if there is a large object, if there is any broken skin or if there are signs of an infection. Signs of infection include inflammation around the point of entry, being warm to touch, yellowish skin, or pus. This will need to be reviewed by your doctor and may need to be treated with antibiotics.

How is it applied?

To begin with, ensure the area is clean, and there is no broken skin. Start by stirring the paste till an even mixture is produced. Apply the paste liberally to the affected area and cover it with a clean dressing. This can be done twice a day until the paste draws out the offending object. Ensure to keep an eye out for signs of an infection.

How does it work?

Magnesium sulfate paste is not just magnesium sulfate; it also contains glycerol which works by retaining moisture. The magnesium sulfate is dried, so it does not contain any water, and when applied to the skin, it draws out moisture from an inflamed area of the skin.

Should anyone avoid using it?

Do not use it if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the paste. Also, do not use on any broken skin or areas that may be infected. Like any medication, side effects are possible. Given it is a topical paste, skin reactions are possible. Stop applying the paste and talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any side effects.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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