The Benefits Of A Skin-Soothing Oatmeal Bath

When it comes to beauty products, sometimes the best options are the most natural. This is especially the case if you have sensitive skin that refuses to behave no matter what you use. One of those natural skin products is oatmeal.


According to a 2012 study published in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, oatmeal is so safe to use on the skin that of the over 445,000 products that were tried during a three-year period, none of them led to allergies. It's not often that we see such numbers. What makes oatmeal such an asset to skin health is its water-absorbing properties (found in its beta-glucan), its antioxidants, its natural oils, and saponins which clean the skin, per Medical News Today. All of these together make for a near-perfect skin-protecting substance.

The best way to get the most out of the benefits of oatmeal is to take a bath. Combine a cup of oatmeal with a tub of lukewarm water, then soak for roughly 10 to 15 minutes. When you get out, pat yourself dry and apply a moisturizer from head to toe. Make sure you don't overstay your oatmeal bath welcome. Too much time in any body of water can cause more irritation to already aggravated skin, via WebMD. Your skin will be so smooth, you'll definitely make these baths part of your skincare routine.


It helps with itchiness

If you ever had chickenpox as a kid, you might remember sitting in an oatmeal bath to help soothe the itchiness — and it really worked! Not only are oatmeal baths great for chickenpox, but they also minimize itching for those who dealing with poison ivy, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and sunburns. Basically, if you have any external itching, oatmeal baths can swoop in and save the day.


Oatmeal is so good for itchy skin, that a 2020 study published in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology found that people with hand eczema greatly benefited from itch relief when using a cream with oatmeal in it. Those in the study who used cream without oatmeal didn't have the same level of relief. A 2018 study published in the Italian Journal of Dermatology and Venereology found that topical creams that contain oatmeal can roll back skin dryness in both adults and children, thereby alleviating itchiness. These creams can also eliminate the side effects that come with itchy skin like scaling. 

It strengthens the skin's barrier

Your skin needs protection from the harsh weather and chemicals that we come into contact with regularly. The best way to protect the skin is by strengthening its natural barrier by keeping it moisturized, so it doesn't dry out or crack, which could lead to possible infections. "The oatmeal acts as an emollient and protective moisturizer for dry skin," physician Azza Halim, MD told Insider. Emollients "form a film on your skin's outer layer" that doesn't just prevent loss of moisture, but makes moisture easier to absorb, per Cleveland Clinic.


According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, oatmeal "boosted the expression of multiple target genes related to [the] skin barrier," an action that not only strengthens the barrier but helps in rebuilding it. The same study found that oatmeal also played a role in regulating skin lipids and maintaining pH-buffering throughout. A well-protected and hydrated epidermis is less likely to suffer from skin irritations of all kinds.

It keeps bacteria at bay

Although skin bacteria are totally normal and even necessary, if they reach high levels it can result in an infection and cause problems. But, as dermatologist Delphine J. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.D. told Prevention, moisturizers that contain oatmeal are "associated with trends toward lower prevalence of Staphylococcus species and higher microbiome diversity at lesion sites." Both of which are very important factors in keeping the epidermis healthy.


We may not think of staph as being a big deal. While it isn't on the surface, if it gets into the bloodstream it can be deadly, according to Mayo Clinic. Because trillions of microorganisms call our skin home, the skin's microbiome needs to remain balanced so it can fight against bacteria that might go rogue. Oatmeal's ability to play such a role in the skin's health, in regards to staving off bad bacteria, speaks volumes to its power as a protector. 

It's anti-inflammatory

When skin becomes inflamed, it feels as painful as it looks. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the most common reasons for inflammation of the skin can be attributed to allergic reactions, dermatitis, genetics, or viruses. It's in these situations that an oatmeal bath can help alleviate the pain and itching. "Extracts of colloidal oatmeal have been shown to lessen inflammatory mediators in the skin, giving significant clinical improvements in skin dryness, scaling, roughness, and itch intensity," board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo M.D., FAAD told MBG. If it's a virus, however, treatment may involve a more aggressive route like that of an oral antibiotic.


Granted, an oatmeal bath won't cure everything. It's not going to pay your student loans or get your ex back. But, when it comes to healthy skin, it's something you should consider making part of your daily beauty routine. Just remember not to stay in your oatmeal bath longer than 15 minutes tops.