Oatmeal Bath for Eczema & Diaper Rash

  • By: Sandra
  • Date: March 18, 2022
  • Time to read: 9 min.

Our baby wakes up itching like crazy because of her eczema! Last night, she woke up about a dozen times thanks to her itchy scalp and eyes. I feel SO bad for her. We always make sure that we lotion her entire body with a good moisturizing lotion, generally, Aveeno or Aquaphor brands, recommended by her doctor.

We buy the lotions formulated with oatmeal and it makes her skin feel much softer. The rough patches on her skin don’t go away with just lotion though.

I’m finding that keeping her free of dye and scented products AND applying lotion frequently still does not help to cure her skin entirely. Though her eczema significantly improves and her face is no long covered in red, rash-like patches, she still tosses around at night due to itchy skin. I finally broke down tonight and ran her a warm, oatmeal bath.

Let me tell you what… It made her skin softer and more moisturized than any product we have tried!

Benefits of Oatmeal Baths for Babies

A soothing oatmeal bath for babies can soothe their sensitive skin. It is often recommended to use oatmeal baths on the drier areas of the body, such as their knees and elbows.

This bath is also good for treating eczema, mild diaper rash, reducing skin redness and dry skin.

Oatmeal (Avena sativa) is an extremely nutritious grain that has been used in folk medicine since ancient times. The oats contain saponins, which possess anti-inflammatory properties. Oats may reduce the itchiness associated with chickenpox or poison ivy.

It can also help ease sunburn and rosacea irritation. According to one study, a non-steroidal cream containing colloidal oatmeal can help lessen the intensity of eczema symptoms, relieve dry skin, and lengthen the duration between flares.

Oatmeal soothes the skin because it contains saponins which contain anti-inflammatory properties. Oats relax the muscles in the outermost layer of skin and reduce some of its inflammatory responses while accelerating healing of minor wounds and cuts.

How to make an oatmeal bath for baby

Oatmeal baths are easy to prepare by adding about one cup of oats into a tub of warm water. You can also add plant oils, such as olive or flaxseed, to the water for even more soothing benefits.

Allow your baby to soak in the bathtub for up to 20 minutes before gently washing them with mild soap. Rinse your baby’s skin well with warm water.

Simple, Mess Free Instructions for Milky Oatmeal Baths in a Muslin Bag

  1. Cut off the foot of a pantyhose or use a muslin bag.
  2. Fill it with plain oatmeal and tie it off.
  3. Draw warm bathwater while holding the oatmeal filled pantyhose underneath it. This will create a creamy, milky bath instead of having to bathe in actual oatmeal. [Great too, but messy!]
  4. While baby is playing in the water, wash her with the oatmeal filled pantyhose. I ran it over her entire body, including hair.
  5. After washing, leave it in the bottom of the tub.

It leaves the skin very, very soft and soothed while reducing itching and inflammation.

Colloidal Oatmeal Powder Bath

Colloidal oatmeal is a powder containing ground oats that has been made into a suspension with the help of an electrically charged machine, usually called a colloidal mill. It is ground fine so that the colloidal particles are mixed into a fine powder that will not clog up, but that has very few grains. Oats have been known to help soothe irritated skin since at least Roman times.

The colloidal oatmeal powder can be used to relieve some itching and swelling associated with

  • Allergies (e.g., hay fever)
  • Poison ivy/oak/sumac
  • Minor skin irritations
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Minor burns (sunburns)
  • Psoriasis
  • Diaper rashes
  • Eczema. (* note: this is not to be used with open wounds). It can also be used as an exfoliant.

When the colloidal oatmeal powder is added to bathwater it swells and forms a thin lather, which helps to relieve skin irritation.

You can manufacture your own colloidal oatmeal if you don’t have any on hand: In a clean coffee grinder, high-powered food processor, or blender, combine one cup of ordinary, uncooked oats. Oatmeal should be ground into a fine powder.

If one tablespoon of powder does not dissolve easily in one cup of water, the powder has not been crushed finely enough. Continue to grind until your test yields milky, smooth water.

As long as you ground them up, any variety of oats, including unflavored quick oats and slow-cooking oats, will work for an oatmeal bath.

Are Oatmeal Baths Good for Diaper Rash

Yes, regular oatmeal baths can also help treat diaper rash since these baths provide relief for inflamed skin. The gentle cleansing of oat baths does not irritate a baby’s genitals or anus and provides a soothing solution to the irritation caused by bowel movements containing hard stools or diarrhea. Also gently pat the baby dry with a soft towel after an oat bath.

Oatmeal is often used in products targeted to relieve diaper rash and according to the American Academy of Dermatology, oatmeal baths can help ease some of the itching associated with chicken pox blisters in children.

What is an Oatmeal Bath?

An oatmeal bath is a gentle, soothing, and relaxing way to use oat flour as an exfoliant. Oats have been used as a home remedy for centuries due to their beneficial properties, including using them in baths or applying them directly on the skin.

The oats naturally contain saponins that work as a gentle cleansing agent and the oat flour works as an exfoliant. Some people find that adding a tablespoon of honey provides additional moisturizing properties and relieves dry skin.

An oatmeal bath has many benefits for the skin, including treating acne, helping with sunburn pain and preventing peeling, soothing and softening the skin after harsh exposure or dryness, helping to relieve the itchiness associated with chickenpox, and even speeding up the healing process of cuts.

An oatmeal bath is also beneficial for people with psoriasis or eczema because oats contain antioxidants that decrease oxidative stress in the skin, which can help reduce inflammation caused by these conditions.

Why do oatmeal baths work?

Oatmeal contains several anti-inflammatory components, including avenanthramides, saponins, flavonoids and phenolic acids. Saponins have a cleansing effect on the skin and can relieve itching associated with rashes or eczema.

Avenanthramides may also have a cleansing effect and prevent the skin from feeling sticky after bathing.

To make a soothing oatmeal bath at home, all that is required is to add about a cup of rolled oats into the bathtub and then fill it with lukewarm water.

Once the hot water has completely filled the tub, people can soak in their oat bath for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. After this time period has passed, they should rinse off in the shower and pat their skin dry.

People with longer hair can use the oatmeal bath as a way to remove dead skin cells and product build-up, which will give their locks more shine. The oatmeal will also help reduce frizzing and prevent split ends. Because of its many beneficial properties, an oatmeal bath is one of the best baths to take someone who wants to relax and destress.

Choosing Baby Names
Choosing Baby Names

Do oatmeal baths help eczema?

Research suggests that oatmeal baths can decrease itching and inflammation when used for children who have atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema.

A study found that bathing infants with water combined with an oatmeal solution were more effective than using baby soap alone in alleviating symptoms of eczema and irritated skin.

In addition, oatmeal baths can help treat dry skin and other skin conditions such as rosacea and sunburn. Oatmeal contains small amounts of antioxidant vitamins A and E that help nourish the skin and reduce damage from free radicals.

How often should you take an oatmeal bath?

People who have skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, irritant diaper dermatitis, and other skin conditions usually benefit from taking an oatmeal bath. The water in the tub should be cool or lukewarm.

Depending on your skin condition, you might need to take an oatmeal bath every day for several weeks to see improvement.

Can oatmeal bath make rash worse?

Concerns have been raised that an oatmeal bath for children with diaper rash may worsen the rash or cause contact dermatitis.

However, there is no medically reviewed literature to suggest that an oatmeal bath has any adverse effects on healthy children, even when applied several times a day for months at a time.

Oatmeal baths can soften skin and provide temporary relief from mild to moderate eczema and itching.

How long should a baby sit in an oatmeal bath?

For treating eczema and mild to moderate diaper rash on children 2 months and older, mix one-half cup of oatmeal with a small amount of cool water. Add the mixture to the bathwater and let your child soak in it for 10–15 minutes. Repeat up to four times a day for several weeks if needed.

Do not add anything else to the bathwater when you use an oatmeal bath. Do not use it on children younger than 2 months of age and do not add soap to the water while your child is in the tub.

How much colloidal oatmeal do I put in my baby’s bath?

In a tub, add one cup of colloidal oatmeal to two gallons of warm water. In a small tub for infants or toddlers, use about one-fourth to one-half cup to two gallons of water.

What types of oatmeal work best in an oatmeal bath?

The finer the grind, the more it will dissolve and be absorbed into your child’s skin. As a result, it is usually easier to use finely ground quick-cooking or rolled oats rather than thick-cut or steel-cut oats for making an oatmeal bath. Even unflavored instant oats can be used as long as they are ground to a soft powder, ensure the powder is a consistent powder for best results.

Will my child’s skin become dependent on oatmeal?

There is no evidence that topical treatment with oatmeal will cause an allergic reaction if used repeatedly on the same area of skin. Some children may be more prone to developing contact dermatitis from repeated exposure to certain substances, such as those found in wet wipes or bubble baths. However, oatmeal is not known to cause contact dermatitis.

Is it safe for children with an oat allergy to use an oatmeal bath?

If your child has a known oat allergy, it’s probably best to avoid oatmeal baths. We suggest trying other soothing baths like an Epsom salts bath for diaper rash or a cornstarch bath for diaper rash if your child is allergic to oats. Baths are great for soothing irritated skin, as long as you use natural products and avoid irritants like bubble bath etc.

Can you use Quaker Oats for an oatmeal bath?

Yes, you can make an oatmeal bath using Quaker oats. You may use rolled oats, but it’s ideal if you can ground them in a blender or food processor before adding them to the bathwater. What exactly is this? Make a fine oat powder that resembles colloidal oatmeal; put it to the tub and it will dissolve in the water.

Do you rinse after an oatmeal bath?

Yes, rinse with lukewarm water after bathing in oats. Pat dry so that the eczema-affected regions are not inflamed. Apply a moisturizing lotion to the skin within a few minutes, while it is still damp.

To assist lock in moisture, use an emollient within three minutes of drying off. Using an emollient (rather than lotion) to preserve the skin barrier. For natural emollients use genuine lanolin, coconut oil for diaper rash or raw shea butter to help form the protective barrier.

The Bottom Line

A soothing oat bath can really help babies with irritated skin and even severe eczema. Peer-reviewed studies suggest that this age-old remedy can help babies with skin issues and help get rid of a bad rash. Oat baths with their milk-white water feel silky and they helps soothe babies skin. So relax and enjoy bath time with a few milky white oats thrown in knowing this helps repair and soothe their damaged skin!