Oats are the harvested seeds of the common oat plant. Oats are a member of the cereal grain family Poaceae, a family that also includes wheat, barley, sorghum, corn, rye, and rice (that’s a big family!). In addition to being a food staple in many countries, oats can be used to soothe itchy and irritated areas of skin.
Oatmeal has a sticky texture when combined with water, which helps it to coat the skin and lock in moisture. A fancy term for this is “colloid,” which simply refers to the fact that oatmeal is a mixture of liquids and solids even after being combined with water. In fact, if left untouched, the oats won’t separate from the water even though the two substances are in different phases (solid and liquid).
Oatmeal baths have been used to soothe eczema (atopic dermatitis). Clinical studies show that oatmeal baths can improve skin scaling and dryness while soothing the intensely itchy skin for those with eczema. Another clinical study in fifty women showed that a lotion with oatmeal improved skin hydration.
Here is a simple way to make an oatmeal bath:
1) Finely powdered oatmeal: Use a grinder or a blender to mix the oatmeal into a fine powder. This will make it easier to mix into the bath and will allow for more of the natural chemicals found in the oatmeal to dissolve into the bath. Use 1 cup for adults and less for an infant (⅓ to ½ cup)
2) Mix finely powdered oatmeal into a bathtub of warm water.
3) Mix well and then the oatmeal bath is ready
4) Optional: To make an oatmeal bleach bath you can add ¼ cup of household bleach to a full bathtub of oatmeal bath water.
* This Website is for general skin beauty, wellness, and health information only. This Website is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. The information provided on this Website should never be used to disregard, delay, or refuse treatment or advice from a physician or a qualified health provider.
Fowler JF, Jr. Colloidal oatmeal formulations and the treatment of atopic dermatitis. J Drugs Dermatol.2014;13(10):1180-1183; quiz 1184-1185; PMID: 25607551.
Reynertson KA, Garay M, Nebus J, et al. Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin. J Drugs Dermatol.2015;14(1):43-48; PMID: 25607907.
Ilnytska O, Kaur S, Chon S, et al. Colloidal Oatmeal Avena Sativa Improves Skin Barrier Through Multi-Therapy Activity. J Drugs Dermatol.2016;15(6):684-690; PMID: 27272074.