How to Make Your Own Oatmeal Bath

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Giving your child an oatmeal bath is a simple, effective, and inexpensive solution for a variety of pediatric skin conditions. It can be used for everything from soothing a sore bottom from diaper rash to hydrating dry skin and offering relief from eczema.

Not only is this good for children, but you can also use it yourself for itchy or dry skin problems. The secret is that "colloidal" oats, which act as an emollient, work to soothe and moisturize dry and irritated skin. Regular oats become emollient when they're ground up into a fine powder, which allows the nutrients to become more readily absorbed by the skin.

When your doctor recommends an oatmeal bath for a skin condition, you could choose to buy a commercial product—or you can make your own at home for less than a dollar. All you need is just one simple ingredient that you probably already have in your kitchen.

how to make an oatmeal bath
Verywell / Kelly Miller 

Ingredients and Equipment Needed

  • Blender, food processor, or coffee grinder
  • Warm water
  • 1 cup of oatmeal or 1/3 cup for infants (Quick or slow cooking oats and unflavored instant oatmeal work equally well)
  • If you find you can't grind the oatmeal finely enough, you may want to use a muslin bag, cheesecloth, or pantyhose as a bag for the oatmeal in the bath

Steps for Making the Oatmeal Bath

  1. Blend or process the oats on the highest setting in your food processor, blender, or coffee grinder until you have a very fine, consistent powder.
  2. Test a tablespoon of the ground oats to see if they are ground fine enough to absorb water. Stir one tablespoon of the ground oats into a glass of warm water.
  3. If the oats readily absorb into the water, turning the liquid into a milky-looking substance with a silky feel, you've blended long enough.
  4. If the liquid doesn't turn milky, keep processing the oats to grind them even finer. Test again. Repeat until you get a milky solution with a silky feel.
  5. If you are unable to grind the oatmeal fine enough that it will be powdered and not leave a mess on the bottom of the tub, then another solution is to grind it as much as you can and put it into a small muslin bag or tie it in a cheesecloth (you can also use pantyhose). If you find yourself with a mess to clean out of the tub that you'd rather avoid, that is a good solution.

How to Give an Oatmeal Bath

Pour your homemade oatmeal into a tub of running warm water and stir the water with your hand several times to ensure even distribution. Feel along the bottom of the tub for clumps and break up any you find.

Allow your child to soak in the tub for 15 to 20 minutes. You may even want to gently rub some of the oatmeal directly on their skin.

If you've used a bag to contain the oatmeal, run a hot bath and place the bag in it while the water cools down to an appropriate temperature for your child. You may want to set a timer; be sure that the water isn't too hot before you give your child a bath.

Be careful transporting your little one in and out of the bath. Oatmeal will make the tub even more slippery than usual. Pat your child's skin dry with a soft towel.

An oatmeal bath can be given once or twice a day, or more frequently if your pediatrician advises doing so.

Skin Conditions Soothed by Oatmeal Baths

Parents and doctors alike have been turning to the skin-soothing powers of oatmeal for ages. It's not surprising, then, that you'll find finely powdered (colloidal) oatmeal listed among the ingredients in many body soaks, moisturizers, and soaps (for kids and adults).

Oatmeal is a natural way to lock in the body's moisture, protect the skin, and soothe any irritation or itching.

Here are just a few common pediatric skin conditions that can be treated with an oatmeal bath:

A Word From Verywell

Oatmeal baths are great for your baby, but you may find them soothing for any itchy rash, sunburn, dry skin, or eczema. Now that you've mastered using it for your child, don't hesitate to try it yourself. If your doctor hasn't already suggested it to help treat your own skin issues, ask them about it at your next appointment.

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9 Sources
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