Using an Oatmeal Bath to Treat Eczema

Oatmeal is known as a great nutritional option for breakfast. In addition to its reputation as a healthy food, it is also an ingredient in a number of skin-care products.

Oatmeal is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a natural option to treat irritated and itchy skin conditions like eczema.

Read more about how to use an oatmeal bath to treat your eczema.

oatmeal bath

Svittlana / Getty Images

The Benefits of Oatmeal

Oats are a type of cereal grain that comes from the Poaceae family of plants. These plants are known for their nutritional benefits. Eating oatmeal:

  • Helps to reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Adds fiber to your diet
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Helps regulate blood sugar levels in people who have diabetes

Overall, oats are a food that can create healthy outcomes. Some of the vitamins and minerals in oats include:

  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin B6
  • Potassium
  • Zinc

Oats also contain antioxidants, which are substances that can prevent or limit cell damage. The antioxidants in oats can benefit the skin along with oats' anti-inflammatory properties, which are known to reduce the effects of dry skin and remove dead skin cells.

In addition, oatmeal exfoliates the skin and opens clogged pores. It also eases the symptoms of some skin conditions.

How to Use Oatmeal to Soothe Eczema Symptoms

Oatmeal is a common ingredient in many personal care products such as:

  • Facial cleansers
  • Lotions
  • Moisturizers

Oats are known to:

  • Serve as a barrier on the skin to help protect against irritants
  • Act as an emollient and hold moisture to the skin

Properties in oats help to maintain the skin’s pH level (potential hydrogen level, the measurement of how acidic or basic something is). These same properties in oats reduce the itchiness of dry skin, as well.

Oats' soothing qualities also help reduce inflammation in certain skin conditions, like eczema. Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a condition that causes red and itchy skin. It is a chronic (long-term) disorder that flares up at times when the condition gets worse. Remission occurs between flares, when the skin is able to heal.

In one blind study, 29 women who had moderate to severe dry skin with a mild to moderate itch on their lower legs were given a colloidal oatmeal skin lotion to use on the affected area. The results of the study revealed improvements in their skin in terms of roughness, scaling, dryness, and intensity of itch.

Making an Oatmeal Bath for Eczema Relief

Along with topical ointments and lotions that contain oatmeal, oatmeal baths are known to help relieve symptoms of eczema.

When a person has eczema, they typically have dry skin, so it's important to properly moisturize the skin. A way to do this is by taking a bath in lukewarm water and adding colloidal oatmeal. The typical recommended use is adding a cup of colloidal oatmeal to the bath and soaking in it for 15–20 minutes.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you have eczema and it is excessively itchy and causing issues within your everyday life, contact your healthcare provider. In general, it is important to stay in contact with your doctor when you have eczema to help monitor periods of flare-ups and remissions.

If you are on medication for your eczema, don’t stop taking it or begin using any additional treatments without first consulting with your doctor. A healthcare provider will be able to assure you whether adding oatmeal baths or lotions to your treatment plan would be beneficial for your specific situation.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How often can you take an oatmeal bath if you have eczema?

It is generally safe to take an oatmeal bath one to two times a day for 15–20 minutes at a time. Before you start taking oatmeal baths, contact your healthcare provider to make sure it is a good treatment option for your situation.

How do you rinse off after an oatmeal bath for eczema?

After bathing in oatmeal, rinse yourself with lukewarm water. Pat dry so the areas that have eczema will not get irritated. Within a few minutes—and while the skin is still damp—apply a cream that will help moisturize the skin.  

What type of oatmeal should you use in a bath to treat eczema?

Colloidal oatmeal is best to use. You can purchase it or make it yourself. Colloidal oatmeal is a form of oatmeal that is finely ground and easily absorbs water. To make an oatmeal bath, oats can be blended into a fine powder with a food processor or blender. Once this powder is added to water, it will become a milky-white liquid.

A Word From Verywell

Eczema is a common skin condition. There are a number of treatment options that you can try to help with your symptoms. Some treatments are prescribed by your healthcare provider; others are natural remedies.

Oatmeal is a natural treatment known to help the skin. It is an ingredient in many personal care products, including lotions, creams, shampoos, conditioners, and facial masks.

Oatmeal is also used when bathing. Its healing and soothing properties can help relieve dry skin and other symptoms of eczema. If you want to try an oatmeal bath, ask your doctor first to make sure it is a right fit for your condition.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Harvard School of Public Health. Oats.

  2.  

    Reynertson KA, Garay M, Nebus J, Chon S, Kaur S, Mahmood K, Kizoulis M, Southall MD. 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 Jan;14(1):43-8.

  3. National Eczema Association. Eczema and bathing.