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A milk bath is a bath where you add milk — in liquid or powdered form — to warm water in your bathtub. It may be beneficial for a number of skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, and dry skin.

Read on to learn more about the benefits and risks of milk baths, and how to try milk baths at home.

Research is limited on the effectiveness of milk baths on the treatment of skin conditions. Where scientific research is lacking, there’s anecdotal evidence.

Always talk with your doctor before using milk baths for the treatment of skin conditions.

1. Dry Skin

If you live with dry skin, milk baths may help replenish lost moisture. Milk contains:

  • proteins
  • fat
  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • lactic acid

The proteins and fat may help soften and soothe the skin. And lactic acid is a gentle exfoliator. Exfoliation is important for shedding dead skin cells, which can lead to softer skin.

In one study about skin care for women over age 65, researchers also found milk baths to provide effective relief from pruritus, or itchy skin.

2. Eczema

Eczema often causes rashes, bumpy skin, and irritation. Studies about the efficacy of milk baths for eczema are limited.

One study found that topically applying human breast milk was as effective for treating babies with eczema as hydrocortisone ointment. But more research is needed.

There isn’t currently any evidence that milk baths for adults are an effective treatment for eczema. It shouldn’t replace your prescribed skin medication.

If you find milk baths soothing, talk to your dermatologist to confirm they are safe for your skin.

3. Psoriasis

A milk bath may help treat psoriasis symptoms, including itchy, flaky, or patchy skin. However, scientific research is limited on the effectiveness of a milk bath to treat psoriasis.

If you enjoy milk baths, confirm with your doctor that they are safe for you to take.

4. Poison ivy

Milk baths may help relieve poison ivy symptoms. The milk may help soothe redness, itchiness, and inflammation. But studies on the efficacy of a milk bath for treating poison ivy are limited.

5. Sunburn

The proteins, fat, amino acids, and vitamin A and D found in milk can be calming and soothing for sunburned skin. Try soaking for up to 20 minutes. Follow your bath with aloe vera or another moisturizer for best results.

Milk baths are not safe for everyone. Avoid them if you have sensitive skin. The lactic acid in milk may irritate it.

Also avoid milk baths if you have a high fever.

If you’re pregnant, check with your doctor before trying a milk bath.

Leave the bath immediately if you feel faint, dizzy, or ill. Also, never drink the water from a milk bath. It isn’t safe to consume.

You can use various types of milk in a milk bath, including:

  • whole milk
  • buttermilk
  • coconut milk
  • goat’s milk
  • powdered milk
  • rice or soy milk

Limited evidence exists whether one type of milk is more effective than another for the skin. You can experiment with different types of milk and determine which one you prefer.

Avoid skim milk, though. The full-fat version of milk will be more nourishing for your skin.

To make a milk bath, you can add 1 to 2 cups of milk to a full tub of warm water. You can also add in essential oils, bath salts, honey, or baking soda for additional benefits.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 cups powdered milk (or milk of choice)
  • Optional add-ins: 1 cup Epsom salt, baking soda, oatmeal, honey, or 10 drops of an essential oil

Directions

  • Fill bathtub with warm water and add in milk and optional ingredients.
  • Mix water and milk with your arm or foot to combine.
  • Soak and relax for 20 to 30 minutes.

You can find ingredients to make your own milk bath online or at your local pharmacy. Look for powdered milk online or use the liquid milk you may already have in the fridge.

You can also find prepared milk bath mix online. Make sure you aren’t allergic or have any known irritations to the ingredients on the label, though.

You may find milk baths soothing for dry, itchy skin. A milk bath shouldn’t replace your usual skin medication. Always check with your doctor or dermatologist first to confirm if milk baths are safe for you.