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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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Eczema causes itchy, scaly, or patchy skin.
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.
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.
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.
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:
How to make an oatmeal bath
Soaking in a lukewarm oatmeal bath can soothe, moisturize, and protect skin.
- Fill a tub with lukewarm water. Avoid hot water as this can aggravate inflamed skin and draw moisture from it.
- Pour about 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal into the tub under the running water.
- Mix the water to help the oatmeal dissolve.
- Soak in the milky water for about 10 minutes.
- A quick rinse with lukewarm water will remove any residue and stickiness if needed.
- Apply moisturizer to add extra protection to the skin.
Oatmeal face masks
How to apply an oatmeal face mask
- Mix the ingredients in a bowl to create a paste.
- Cleanse the face and apply the mask.
- Rub in gently and then leave on for 10–30 minutes.
- Rinse off and pat face dry.
- Apply moisturizer for an extra layer of protection.
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.
- 2 teaspoons of colloidal oatmeal
Face mask for oily skin
Some people claim that egg whites can help tighten and tone skin.
This face mask combines the benefits of oatmeal with those of egg whites and honey.
- 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.
- ½ cup colloidal oatmeal
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp almond oil
- half a mashed banana
- 1 tbsp honey
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.