Colloidal oatmeal is a product that consists of oats that have been ground very fine for use as a home remedy for itchy or dry skin. It typically is added to bathwater, creating a liquid that might be described as silky. The user soaks in this liquid for several minutes, and the oatmeal in the water coats the skin. Many people who suffer from certain skin conditions or ailments have reported finding some relief by using this home remedy.
People who use colloidal oatmeal say that it is especially effective at treating skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, chicken pox and acne. The pain of sunburns, bug bites, poison ivy and other rashes may also be relieved using this home remedy. It has also been used by people who have rosacea.
Why It Helps
The ingredients in colloidal oatmeal might help in many ways. It contains avenacins compounds, which have antifungal properties; saponins, which can help in cleansing; and flavonoids, which might help with absorbing ultraviolet-A (UVA) rays. It also includes vitamin E, which is an anti-inflammatory, along with phenols and starches to help in moisturizing.
What makes it effective at soothing the skin is the cellulose and fiber from the oats. These make a skin-softening emollient that is effective against irritation and redness that comes from conditions such as eczema and rosacea. When skin is soothed, the itching usually is relieved as well.
Directions for Use
Colloidal oatmeal usually is added to warm bathwater. The oats do not sink to the bottom, because of the colloid action of the particles, which disperse throughout the water. This helps it to coat the user's skin and makes it more effective as a treatment for skin conditions than other forms of oats.
For an oatmeal bath, the tub should be filled with lukewarm water, not cool or hot. Several large scoops or cupfuls of the oats should be added to the water. Bathers should soak in the mixture for at least 10 minutes, and then get out and pat the skin dry without rubbing it. An oatmeal bath can be taken three times a day to achieve optimum results. If the skin is too sticky, the bather might choose rinse off afterward with clean, lukewarm water.
How It is Made
To make this remedy, the oats are finely ground so that they can absorb water. If it is made at home, they will need to be processed in a blender or coffee grinder, then tested to determine how fine the particles need to be before they stop sinking in water. The oatmeal should absorb water quickly and give it a milky look.
Colloidal oatmeal generally can be used without worry because there is no known drug interaction with it. There also is no known nutrient interaction, so holistic or homeopathic remedies should not interact. Oatmeal is generally considered very safe to use. Bathers should avoid getting it in the eyes, as it can be irritating.
Some people might experience an allergic reaction to oatmeal. People who are sensitive to gluten should be cautious as well, especially if any of the bath water is ingested. Although pure oatmeal does not contain gluten, many oat products are susceptible to cross-contamination during production and might contain trace amounts of the protein. Certified gluten-free oatmeal is available in many stores.