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Many people use oatmeal as a home remedy for soothing dry, itchy, or irritated skin. Ground oatmeal can work as an exfoliant, sloughing away dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. People may also use oatmeal for cleansing, moisturizing, and reducing inflammation.

Doctors typically recommend that people use colloidal oatmeal for their skin. This type of oatmeal is a finely ground powder.

In this article, we will look at oatmeal’s benefits for the skin, how people can use it, and some recipes for using oatmeal in home remedies.

A caregiver applies oatmeal to a child's face.Share on Pinterest
Julien McRoberts/Offset

Colloidal oatmeal contains several components that could be beneficial for the skin. These include:

  • beta glucan, which is a substance that can absorb water
  • phenols, which are a type of antioxidant
  • saponins, which have soap-like properties and can act as a cleanser
  • oils

A small 2015 study suggests that colloidal oatmeal has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that could help improve skin dryness, scaling, and roughness. It also may reduce itchiness.

The study examined colloidal oatmeal extracts in a laboratory setting, as well as the effects of an oatmeal-based lotion on 29 female participants with dry, itchy legs.

Safety

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of colloidal oatmeal as an over-the-counter skin care product.

An older review of research from 2012 examined the use of personal skin care products containing colloidal oatmeal in 2,291 participants. The researchers did not note any reports of allergies over a 3-year period of product use.

People can try applying oatmeal to their skin to help with a variety of different issues. It is worth noting that many of the studies mentioned below involve small numbers of participants, and so their results may not be as reliable as larger studies.

Colloidal oatmeal may be helpful for the following conditions:

Dryness and itching

A 2018 paper suggests that using cream containing colloidal oatmeal can alleviate the dryness, itching, and scaling that are symptomatic of skin conditions such as dry skin and atopic dermatitis in children.

The authors conclude that colloidal oatmeal can help to restore and maintain the skin barrier.

A small study from 2015 looking at 29 females with severely dry skin and itchiness noted an improvement in symptoms after 2 weeks of using lotion containing colloidal oatmeal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggest that colloidal oatmeal baths could help relieve itching in cases of shingles.

Learn more about home remedies for dry skin here.

Eczema

Eczema causes itchy, scaly, or patchy skin.

A 2020 double-blind study examined the effects of colloidal oatmeal on chronic hand eczema among patients at a dermatology clinic in Iran.

Among the 26 patients who received treatment with a 1% colloidal oatmeal cream, the researchers observed longer relief from symptoms than that experienced by a control group.

Another study examined the effects of a colloidal oatmeal cream on the skin of people with mild to moderate eczema compared with a standard moisturizer.

Among the 30 people who received the colloidal oatmeal cream, the researchers observed fewer harmful bacteria at areas of damaged skin compared with the 31 participants who received the standard moisturizer.

The researchers also noted that damaged areas of skin healed better with the colloidal oatmeal cream than with the standard moisturizer.

Learn more about natural remedies for eczema here.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition where the immune system triggers the overproduction of skin cells. It can lead to the development of scaly patches of skin, dryness, and itching.

A recent study looked at the effects of a 1% colloidal oatmeal lotion on the symptoms of 60 females with psoriasis and sensitive skin.

After 4 weeks of applying the lotion, the participants reported they had seen significant improvements in their symptoms. The symptoms that improved the most were itchiness and peeling.

In addition, 96% of participants thought that the treatment improved the severity of their psoriasis and reduced the amount of damaged skin patches.

Oatmeal baths could also help relieve itching and irritation that occurs due to psoriasis.

Learn more about home remedies for psoriasis here.

Some online sources claim that food products, such as oatmeal, turmeric, or lemon, can whiten the skin. However, most of these claims are not based on science.

While there have been no studies focusing on the possible whitening effects of oatmeal, oatmeal can help with reducing redness and blotchiness by alleviating skin irritation.

Learn more about home remedies for skin pigmentation here.

Most research into the use of oatmeal on the skin examines the effects of colloidal oatmeal. Colloidal oatmeal refers to whole oat kernels that manufacturers have finely milled and processed in order to use as a skin protectant.

Using a home blender to grind whole raw oats may not result in the optimal size of grain but it is still effective.

To test if the oats are ground finely enough, mix about 1 tablespoon of ground oats into a glass of warm water. A milky white color indicates that they are finely ground.

The following guides for using oats at home come from anecdotal sources:

Oatmeal baths

Learn more about oatmeal baths for eczema here.

Oatmeal face masks

Here are the ingredients for making three different types of oatmeal face mask:

Exfoliating face mask

A mask of ground oatmeal could help remove dead skin cells and unclog pores.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons of colloidal oatmeal
  • water

Face mask for oily skin

Some people claim that egg whites can help tighten and tone skin. Research shows that people can use honey to soothe damaged skin.

This face mask combines the benefits of oatmeal with those of egg whites and honey.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup of colloidal oatmeal
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp honey

Face mask for dry skin

Research suggests that plant oils have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the skin. They promote healing and help repair the skin barrier.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup colloidal oatmeal
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp almond oil
  • half a mashed banana
  • 1 tbsp honey

People experiencing the symptoms of chronic conditions such as eczema and psoriasis should contact a doctor to discuss a treatment plan.

While colloidal oatmeal can help control and improve symptoms significantly, a healthcare professional should confirm that it can be used in conjunction with the person’s medications.

The 2016 study of over 2,000 subjects found none of them had any allergic reaction to colloidal oatmeal. However, if a person experiences the symptoms of an allergic reaction when using oatmeal, they should stop using it and seek medical attention.

Colloidal oatmeal may help provide some relief from the symptoms of skin conditions, such as dryness and itchiness.

People can purchase colloidal oatmeal online or in health stores. Alternatively, people can try making their own at home by using a blender to grind down raw oats.