An oatmeal bath is quite possibly the most novel way to soothe your skin. Usually reserved to the kitchen and bowls of steaming hot porridge, oats are actually a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient used to calm skin flare-ups (think eczema and psoriasis) and to nourish parched skin.
Ground oats suspended in a carrier liquid (in this case your bathwater) is known as colloidal oatmeal and is the best way to drive the beneficial properties of the oats into the skin.
To find out exactly what these benefits are and how to get the most out of your oatmeal bath, two dermatologists to share their pro tips below.
What is an oatmeal bath good for?
“Colloidal oatmeal is thought to have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties due to the presence of compounds such as Vitamin E, ferulic acid, and avenanthramides. It is thought that these compounds can help soothe the skin, and many people do report a beneficial effect,” explains Dr. Ophelia Veraitch dermatologist at The Cranley Clinic, Harley Street.
When it comes to specific skin conditions, “colloidal oatmeal baths help to soothe and improve”:
- Itchy skin
- Dry skin
“Studies have shown that oatmeal has anti-inflammatory, barrier repair, and moisturising properties,” adds Dr. Lisa Stirling, MD, a board certified dermatologist in Encinitas, California and a medical advisor for eMediHealth.
How to run an oatmeal bath
To make your own oatmeal bath at home, Dr. Stirling recommends:
- Blend one cup of oats in a food processor or blender
- Run a warm bath. Pour the powder into the water and stir
- Get into your bath and soak for 15-20 minutes and gently rub into the skin
- Rinse with warm water and dry the skin using a gentle patting motion with the towel
- Follow this by applying a fragrance free, hypoallergenic moisturising cream
She suggests doing this one or two times per week and limiting the time spent in the bath to 15-20 minutes. “Lukewarm water is the best temperature, hot water can cause inflammation and worsen itching, dryness, and rashes.”
Can oatmeal stop itching?
“Avenanthramides are the principle polyphenol antioxidant present in oats, which have been shown to decrease inflammation associated with allergy and itch in skin cells. The high concentration of starches and beta-glucan is responsible for the protective and water-holding functions of oat, while the saponin component in oats provides a cleansing activity,” says Dr. Stirling.