You’re getting ready to relax after a long day, so you fill the bath with warm water, light some candles and add your…oatmeal? It may seem a little strange to bathe in a breakfast food, but you may be surprised to learn about the many benefits of an oatmeal bath.
It turns out that oats have been used for centuries as a topical treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including dry skin, rashes and eczema.
So get out your food processor, grind some oats and get bathing. You will love the results of this all-natural remedy.
What Are Oatmeal Baths?
Oatmeal baths are exactly what the name implies — baths with oatmeal added to the water. They are made with colloidal oatmeal, which is a finely ground oat powder that quickly dissolves in bath water.
If you don’t have store-bought colloidal oatmeal at home, grinding quick or instant oats with a coffee grinder or food processor works just as well.
Why on earth would you want to bathe in oatmeal? In a nutshell, it has moisturizing and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin.
When you soak in oatmeal, it helps soothe dry, itchy and damaged skin. It also contains beneficial antioxidants that promote skin healing and healthy aging.
1. Soothes Skin
Oatmeal baths are useful for relieving itchy, irritated skin.
If you’re dealing with an inflammatory skin issue, a rash, hives or sunburn, colloidal oatmeal has soothing, nourishing and hydrating properties. It works as an anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant, boosting the skin’s ability to heal from within.
Studies also reveal that oatmeal plays a role in skin protection against ultraviolet rays. This is why you sometimes see oatmeal as an ingredient in cosmetics preparations.
2. Gently Moisturizes
Bathing in powdered oatmeal forms a protective barrier on your skin, which helps hold in moisture and keep your skin hydrated. It also has cleansing, moisturizing and buffering properties due to its saponins, which have antibacterial and protective effects.
One clinical study evaluated the moisturizing effects of colloidal oatmeal and found that it has significant benefits for cracking, damaged and dry skin.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Research suggests that oatmeal possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and its administration is effective on multiple dermatologic inflammatory diseases, including atopic dermatitis, pruritus, viral infections and psoriasis.
Its anti-inflammatory effects are exactly why oatmeal bath for hives is so effective. It can help reduce swelling, itchiness and irritation.
Oatmeal baths can also help ease sunburn, bug bites, chickenpox, poison ivy and diaper rash. That’s right — it’s safe and beneficial for kids too.
4. Contains Antioxidants
Scientists have determined that the avenanthramides found in whole oat grain work to inhibit inflammation and soothe skin. Avenanthramides are a group of phenolic alkaloids that act as powerful antioxidants.
It addition to their ability to fight free radical damage that leads to early signs of aging and skin damage, these compounds are also linked to oat’s anti-itching and even potential anti-tumor effects.
5. Protects Skin
A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found that colloidal oatmeal has skin barrier strengthening activity. When oatmeal lotion was used topically, it showed significant clinical improvements in skin dryness, moisturization and barrier.
Colloidal oatmeal also provided a pH buffer to the skin and boosted recovery of barrier damage. This means that it’s able to protect your skin from the dirt, bacteria and environmental factors that cause irritation or damage.
How to Make an Oatmeal Bath
To make your own oatmeal bath, you have to purchase colloidal oatmeal or grind one cup of unflavored quick or instant oats yourself. To do it yourself, use a coffee grinder, blender or food processor, and grind the oats until they become a fine powder.
Now you’re ready for your soothing oatmeal bath. Here’s what to do:
- Run your bath with warm water.
- Add one cup of finely powdered oats.
- Let the oats steep for one minute. They should dissolve and look milky in the water.
- Get in the tub, unwind and enjoy.
- When you’re ready, drain the bath water, rinse your skin and step out carefully. The oatmeal should drain easily if it was ground properly, but you may need to rinse the bath afterward to remove residue.
- Lather your skin with a gentle moisturizer, like this Homemade Lotion with coconut oil, frankincense and lavender.
For babies or young children, use about a half cup of unflavored powdered oats.
If you’re worried about the oatmeal powder draining in your bathtub, you can put the oats in a sachet instead.
More Oatmeal Bath Recipes
You can get creative with your oatmeal bath recipes by adding extra beneficial ingredients. Stick to using about one cup of colloidal oatmeal (half cup for the babies), and then add these additional ingredients for added perks.
Here are some ideas:
- Make it a milk bath: Have you tried a milk bath yet? It soothes and hydrates your skin, reduces inflammation, and promotes healthy aging. Adding 1–2 cups of plant-based milk to your oatmeal bath can boost the healing effects. Some great options are coconut milk, almond milk, buttermilk and breast milk for the children.
- Add honey: Raw honey has natural antibacterial and wound-healing effects. It’s often used to fight acne, boost hydration and speed up healing. It can be combined with cinnamon to relieve inflammatory conditions like eczema, too. Remember not to use honey on babies under 1 year old.
- Add lavender: Not only does lavender oil have soothing, calming properties, but it’s also an antibacterial agent and powerful antioxidant. Simply add about 5 drops to your oatmeal milk bath.
- Pour in apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar uses for skin are plentiful. It can added to your oatmeal bath to improve skin texture, reduce the appearance of scars, fight bacteria and improve pigmentation.
- Sprinkle in Epsom salts: Adding a cup of Epsom salts to your oatmeal bath helps boost detoxification, reduce pain and inflammation, and provide relief.
- Pour in avocado oil: Avocado oil for skin has amazing benefits. It works as a great moisturizer, reduces inflammation, fights free radicals and soothes skin damage from sunburns. Add 1–2 tablespoons to your oatmeal bath. If you don’t have avocado oil at home, olive oil, argan oil and coconut oil are other excellent options.
Risks and Side Effects
Colloidal oatmeal baths are generally safe and well-tolerated. When the safety of colloidal oatmeal in personal care products was evaluated by researchers in France, they found that the oatmeal had very low irritant potential and very low allergenic sensitization potential.
In fact, they declared that no allergies were reported by consumers of over 440,000 products that were sold during a three-year period.
If you experience redness, burning or irritation during your oatmeal bath, carefully get out of the bath and rinse your skin in the shower. This would be an adverse reaction to the oats, and you’d want to avoid oatmeal baths in the future.
When taking a colloidal oatmeal bath, don’t exceed 15 minutes or so because the oats can have a drying effect. Also, be sure to use warm water and not hot water, which can cause skin irritation and damage.
What about an oatmeal bath for dogs? Like its effects on humans, oatmeal can soothe your pup’s skin and coat, so go ahead and try it out.
- A colloidal oatmeal bath is made with powdered oats that become a milky, hydrating and soothing substance in warm bath water.
- Oatmeal baths have been popular for centuries because of their ability to soothe damaged, dry or itchy skin. From hives, to bug bites and diaper rash, oatmeal helps relieve inflammation and discomfort. It even works as a poison ivy cure.
- To take advantage of the many oatmeal bath benefits, simply add one cup of finely ground oatmeal to warm bath water and enjoy for about 15 minutes.