Healthy Living

Benefits of an Oatmeal Bath for Skin, Hair, and Health

What is an oatmeal bath?

For those who think that oatmeal is something that can only be taken for breakfast, think again. A long time ago, various healers have suggested the use of oats aside from just providing sustenance and relief from constipation. Oats have been recognized to contain properties that can help treat a variety of skin conditions. When oatmeal is added to warm bathing water, it provides a soothing effect on the skin. 

Uses and Benefits 

Oatmeal baths are something that can be used for a variety of reasons. An oatmeal bath can be used as a home remedy to help relieve a number of skin irritations. This remedy can also provide temporary relief for people who got poison ivy. 

Oatmeal also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which can help provide a soothing effect on irritated skin caused by certain allergies. Oatmeal baths are also a popular remedy for sunburn, dry skin, eczema, and psoriasis.

When the skin is dry and itchy, it often indicates a high pH level. However, oatmeal can help relieve these symptoms by normalizing the pH level of the skin. An oatmeal bath can also help moisturize and soften the skin, as well as protect it from harmful irritants.

Oatmeal contains saponins, which are chemicals that have effective cleansing properties. Saponins tend to help absorb dirt, bad odor, and oil, which is why they are commonly added to detergents and shampoos due to their foaming and emulsifying abilities. 

Oatmeal is also said to contain phenols as well as flavonoids, which help protect the skin from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, and at the same time would act as an antioxidant that fights against free radicals. Oatmeal also contains avenacin, which suggests antifungal properties. 

1. Treatment for dry and itchy skin

According to legends, the skincare regimen of Cleopatra included ground oats. As a matter of fact, the ancient Egyptians were the ones who first discovered oat's soothing effects on the skin. Since then, people with different skin problems have used oatmeal to find relief. 

In June 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA or FDA) announced the safe use of colloidal oatmeal for the treatment of skin conditions, such as dermatitis, eczema, and rashes. Colloidal oatmeal is finely milled oats in gel or liquid suspension. 

The bath can become slippery if colloidal oatmeal is used. For this reason, be extra careful before and after taking an oatmeal bath. You can use certified gluten-free oats if you have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease

2. Soothes the skin

Oats contain avenanthramides, which are polyphenols that can help soothe irritated and itchy skin. Aside from relieving skin irritation, polyphenols also have the ability to provide extra protection against colon cancer and coronary heart disease. According to one study conducted by a research institute at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, avenanthramides in oats exhibit anti-itching, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory properties. 

When oats are combined with moisture, it produces a gel-like structure. Colloidal oatmeal can be seen as an ingredient in bath products, creams, and moisturizers displayed on supermarkets or drugstore shelves. Dermatologists even recommend the use of oatmeal-based bath products in people with psoriasis, eczema, and other skin problems. However, there is really no need to buy expensive bath products, creams, or lotions to soothe your skin problems. All you really need is a bag of oatmeal. 

3. Helps soothe eczema or atopic dermatitis

For decades, a number of inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema, have been treated using topical corticosteroids. However, when these medications are used for a prolonged time, they can cause the following unwanted side effects:

  • Skin atrophy or thinning of the skin
  • Tearing of the dermis that leads to stretch marks
  • Easy bruising
  • Spider veins due to enlarged blood vessels
  • Excessive growth of hair anywhere on the body

Another disadvantage of using topical steroids is that it may mask or worsen certain skin infections, which include:

The need to use topical steroids may be reduced by using oatmeal baths instead. Colloidal oatmeal is effective and safe according to one study conducted by Johnson & Johnson Santé Beauté France. 

4. Relieves dry skin

The natural moisture of the skin can be retained by using oats since they can help add a protective layer on the surface of the skin. While having an oatmeal bath, the starches contained in oats will absorb the water and bind to the skin. Avenanthramides or polyphenols from the oats will then work to soothe your dry skin. 

Skin itching and inflammation due to scratching dry skin can also be reduced with the help of avenanthramides contained in oats, leaving the skin silky and soft. 

5. Provides relief from bee stings

Since oatmeal baths are known to effectively provide relief from skin inflammation, itching, and pain, the symptoms that are associated with bee stings, such as pain, inflammation, swelling, and redness can also be relieved by having an oatmeal bath. 

6. Relieves itchy mosquito bites

Mosquito bites can be quite irritating and itchy. One of the oldest remedies for relieving an itchy skin is taking an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal baths are a great and soothing way to achieve relief from mosquito bites because of the anti-itching and anti-inflammatory properties contained in oats. 

7. Pore cleansing

Clogged pores can cause bacterial infections that result in acne. When there is an excessive production of sebum or oil from the sebaceous gland, skin pores can become clogged. If the skin pores on your back become clogged, they can result in back acne or commonly called bacne. However, not all skin pores can become clogged.

An oatmeal bath can help prevent the clogging of skin pores by washing off skin impurities, toxins, as well as absorb excess oil. Acne breakouts can also be reduced due to oatmeal's anti-inflammatory properties. 

8. Soothes a diaper rash

A diaper rash usually develops when the baby's skin is constantly in contact with wet diapers. Friction between the skin and the diaper can lead to an irritation and the formation of a rash. A diaper rash is commonly seen in newborns, infants, and toddlers who wear diapers. 

Although a diaper rash can look severe and worrying, know that it is preventable and treatable. One way to prevent a diaper rash is regularly changing your baby's diaper. Another remedy for a diaper rash is having a warm oatmeal bath. Let your baby sit in a warm bath with oatmeal for approximately 10 minutes to help soothe the baby's irritated and dry skin. After bathing, make sure to thoroughly but gently dry your baby's skin. 

9. Relief from swimmer’s itch

Swimmer’s itch or cercarial dermatitis is an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites of animals and birds. These parasites are usually released by infected snails that swim in both fresh and salt water in North America and all over the world. 

The infection causes an itchy, burning, or tingling skin rash after swimming in contaminated ponds, lakes, or oceans. Initially, small reddish blisters appear on the skin within 12 hours. The itchy rash may persist for one week or more before gradually disappearing. 

A swimmer's itch can be relieved by having a daily oatmeal bath for at least 10-15 minutes. 

Key Takeaways

  • Oats have been recognized to contain properties that can help treat a variety of skin conditions.
  • Oatmeal baths are also a popular remedy for sunburn, dry skin, eczema, and psoriasis.
  • Oats contain avenanthramides, which are polyphenols that exhibit anti-itching, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory properties.