A Few Simple Ingredients Is All It Takes to Soothe Your Skin
Giving your child an oatmeal bath is a simple, effective, and inexpensive solution for a variety of pediatric skin conditions. It can be used for everything from soothing a sore bottom from diaper rash to hydrating dry skin and offering relief from eczema. Not only is this good for children, you can use it yourself for itchy or dry skin problems.
When your doctor recommends an oatmeal bath for a skin condition, you could buy a commercial product, but instead, you can make your own at home for around a dollar, using ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.
- Blender, food processor, or coffee grinder
- Warm water
- 1 cup of oatmeal or 1/3 cup for babies. Unflavored instant oatmeal, quick oats, or slow cooking oats all work equally well.
- If you find you can’t grind the oatmeal finely enough, you may want to use a muslin bag, cheesecloth, or pantyhose as a bag for the oatmeal in the bath.Steps for Making the Oatmeal Bath
- Blend or process the oats on the highest setting in your food processor, blender, or coffee grinder until you have a very fine, consistent powder.
- Test a tablespoon of the ground oats to see if they are ground fine enough to absorb water. Stir one tablespoon of the ground oats into a glass of warm water.
- If the oats readily absorb in the water, turning the liquid into a milky-looking substance with a silky feel, you’ve blended long enough.
- If the liquid doesn’t turn milky, keep processing the oats to grind them even finer. Test again. Repeat until you get a milky solution with a silky feel.
How to Give an Oatmeal Bath
Pour your homemade oatmeal into a tub of running warm water and stir the water with your hand several times to ensure even distribution. Feel along the bottom of the tub for clumps and break up any you find. Allow your child to soak in the tub for 15 to 20 minutes. You may even want to gently rub some of the oatmeal directly on the skin.
If you’ve used a bag to contain the oatmeal, run a hot bath and place the bag in it while the water cools down to an appropriate temperature for your child. You may want to set a timer; be sure that the water isn’t too hot before you give your child a bath.
Be careful transporting your little one in and out the bath. Oatmeal will make the tub even more slippery than usual. Pat your child’s skin dry with a soft towel. An oatmeal bath can be given once or twice a day, or more frequently if your pediatrician advises doing so.
Skin Conditions That Crave Oatmeal
Parents and doctors alike have been turning to the skin-soothing powers of oatmeal for centuries. It’s not surprising, then, that you’ll find finely powdered (“colloidal”) oatmeal listed among the ingredients in a slew of body soaks, moisturizers and soaps (for kids and adults). Oatmeal is a natural way to lock in the body’s moisture, protect the skin and soothe any irritation or itching.
Here are just a few of common pediatric skin conditions that can be treated with an oatmeal bath.
- Anal itching (often from pinworms)
- Baby acne
- Chicken pox
- Diaper rash
- Dry skin
- Insect bites
- Poison ivy, oak, and sumac
A Word From Verywell
Oatmeal baths are great for your baby, but you may find them soothing for any itchy rash, sunburn, dry skin, or eczema. Now that you’ve mastered using it for your child, don’t hesitate to try it yourself. Discuss it with your doctor if she hasn’t already suggested it to you for your own skin problems.
American Academy of Dermatology. How to Relieve Itchy Skin. https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/skin-care/itchy-skin.
American Academy of Pediatrics. When Diaper Rash Strikes. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/When-Diaper-Rash-Strikes.aspx.