Dry, itchy skin may have led you to visit a dermatologist or try out home remedies for relief.

If so, somebody may have suggested you try using colloidal oatmeal as a treatment.

This article explains how to use colloidal oatmeal for skin conditions and whether it’s safe and effective.

For centuries, colloidal oatmeal has been a salve for itchy, dry, or irritated skin. This natural ingredient is readily found in cosmetic products like moisturizers, shampoos, and shaving creams.

Colloidal oatmeal is made by grinding oat grain, or Avena sativa, into a fine powder. It’s considered an emollient — a substance that softens or soothes the skin — because it packs fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients shown to benefit the skin (1, 2, 3).

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially categorized colloidal oatmeal as a skin protectant in 2003 (1).

It also boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that benefit your skin. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which can damage your body through oxidative stress if their numbers become too high (1, 2, 3).

Oxidative stress is linked to conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as inflammation and certain skin diseases like dermatitis. It also affects aging, which can present as a lack of skin elasticity and moisture (4, 5, 6).

One study found that colloidal oatmeal’s unique chemical profile diminishes cytokines, a group of proteins that cause inflammation in your body. These beneficial properties are due to avenanthramides, a group of plant chemicals found in oat kernels (3, 7, 8).

By blocking inflammatory cytokines, avenathramides inhibit the inflammatory response. As such, avenathramides are not only responsible for colloidal oatmeal’s benefits to the skin but also the heart-healthy properties associated with eating oatmeal (1, 7, 8).


Colloidal oatmeal has been used for centuries to soothe dry, itchy skin. Its content of unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory plant chemicals called avenanthramides boost both skin and overall health.

Colloidal oatmeal is used to treat the symptoms of many conditions, including eczema.

Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a cluster of medical conditions that result in skin abnormalities like itchy, scaly, or patchy skin. It has various causes, including allergies, irritants, and stress (9).

While eczema tends to affect children, adults can also develop it. Colloidal oatmeal — in the form of lotions or baths — may be used as a treatment (9).

Colloidal oatmeal has likewise been used to soothe skin irritation or dryness caused by radiation treatments for cancer (7, 10, 11, 12).

Moreover, it may be useful for people with xerosis, or severely dry skin (7, 11, 12).

Xerosis is more common during the colder winter months and in older adults, as well as those who have experienced repeated exposure to harsh chemicals. It can also result from an underlying disease or be a side effect of certain medications (7, 11, 12).

Studies in both people with and without xerosis have observed significant improvements to the skin’s moisture in those using a moisturizer containing colloidal oatmeal, compared with both untreated areas and those in a placebo group (2, 11, 13).

Further, it may help alleviate itching chickenpox- or burn-related itching. In these cases, it’s usually used in combination with other medications, such as antihistamines (3, 13, 14).

Note that serious burns require prompt medical care to avoid infections, complications, and even death.


Colloidal oatmeal is used to alleviate symptoms of a broad range of skin conditions, including eczema, severe dry skin, mild burns, and chickenpox.

Colloidal oatmeal has been found to be safe in most people.

Allergic reactions are rare. In fact, zero allergic reactions were reported by 445,820 consumers of colloidal-oatmeal-containing personal care products within a 3-year period (2).

What’s more, in a large study in 2,291 adults, only 1% of participants reported low-level irritation after wearing a colloidal oatmeal patch for 24 hours. Plus, most people experienced sustained moisture for an impressive 2 weeks after wearing the patch (2).

That said, those with a known oat allergy should not use colloidal oatmeal. If you experience unwanted symptoms after using colloidal oatmeal, such as burning, a rash, or stinging, discontinue its use and speak to your healthcare provider.


While colloidal oatmeal is safe for most people, discontinue using it if you develop symptoms like a rash.

Making colloidal oatmeal is easy, quick, and might save you some money.

Simply follow these steps:

  1. Add whole, uncooked oatmeal to a food processor, coffee grinder, or blender.
  2. Pulse it until it resembles a fine, off-white powder.
  3. To test if its ground finely enough, mix about 1 tablespoon (15 grams) into a pint (16 ounces or 473 mL) of water. The water should turn milky white. If not, simply grind the oatmeal further.

To make a bath, sprinkle about 1 cup (237 grams) of the powder into lukewarm water and soak in it for 10–15 minutes.

Be sure your bath isn’t too hot, as this can cause more dryness or irritation. After bathing, pat or air dry if possible, then apply a fragrance-free moisturizer formulated for sensitive skin.

This bath is suitable for both children and adults who have no topical allergies to oatmeal.

If preparing this bath for a child, make sure the water isn’t too hot. A good water temperature for babies and children is around 100°F (38°C). If preparing the bath for a baby, you’ll need less oatmeal — only about one-third of a cup (43 grams).

Plus, if it’s their first oatmeal bath, it’s a good idea to do a patch test first. To do so, simply place a bit of the colloidal-oatmeal-water mixture on a small patch of skin, such as a forearm or back of a hand, then rinse after 15 minutes, watching for signs of allergic reaction like redness.

Oatmeal can make your bathtub slippery, so take extra caution when you or your child step out of the tub.


Making colloidal oatmeal is easy and quick — simply blend raw oatmeal into a fine powder. This can be used to make a soothing bath for you or your child.

Colloidal oatmeal has been a salve for itchy, dry, and irritated skin for centuries.

It’s made by finely powdering oat grains and added to common beauty products. What’s more, it can easily be made at home and sprinkled into a soothing bath.

Research shows its unique compounds boast both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and protect your skin’s moisture.

Colloidal oatmeal is safe to use for most people, including children, except those with a known oat allergy.

It has brought relief to many, including people undergoing radiation treatment for cancer, as well as those with aging skin, chickenpox, or dry skin.