How to Make Your Own Oatmeal Bath

Soothe your child's dry, itchy skin with a DIY oatmeal bath

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An oatmeal bath is a simple, effective, and inexpensive solution for a variety of skin conditions in kids. Oatmeal baths can be used for everything from soothing a sore bottom from diaper rash to hydrating dry skin and offering relief from eczema.

Oatmeal is not just good for children. You can also use it yourself for itchy or dry skin. The secret is that "colloidal" oats, which act as an emollient, work to soothe and moisturize dry and irritated skin.

Colloidal means ground into small particles. Regular oats become emollient when they're ground up into a fine powder. Then the skin can more readily absorb the nutrients.

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

how to make an oatmeal bath
Verywell / Kelly Miller 

Oatmeal Bath Ingredients and Equipment

You can use quick-cooking, slow-cooking, or instant oats, as long as they are unflavored. They all work equally well. You will need:

  • Blender, food processor, or coffee grinder
  • Warm water
  • 1 cup of oatmeal (for a full-size bath; 1/3 cup for an infant tub)
  • Muslin bag, cheesecloth, or pantyhose as a bag for the oatmeal in the bath (optional)

Steps for Making the Oatmeal Bath

To unlock oatmeal's healing properties, all you need to do is grind it into a powder.

  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. To test the ground oats to see if they are fine enough, 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.

If you are unable to grind the oatmeal fine enough, 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 that the oatmeal doesn't drain out of your tub easily, the bag 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.

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.

Allow your child to soak in the tub for 15 to 20 minutes. Avoid using soap or other cleansers. This bath is to moisturize and soothe skin, not clean it.

You also do not need to rinse your child off after an oatmeal bath. You may even want to gently rub some of the oatmeal directly on your little one's skin. You can give an oatmeal bath once or twice a day, or more frequently if your pediatrician advises it.

Be careful getting 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.

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 adult).

Oatmeal is a natural way to lock in the body's moisture, protect the skin, and soothe any irritation or itching. Oatmeal baths can help with conditions including:

A Word From Verywell

Oatmeal baths are great for your baby, but you may find them soothing for any itchy rash, or for 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.

9 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Moncrieff G, Lied-Lied A, Nelson G, et al. Cost and effectiveness of prescribing emollient therapy for atopic eczema in UK primary care in children and adults: a large retrospective analysis of the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. BMC Dermatol. 2018;18(1):9. doi:10.1186/s12895-018-0076-y

  3. Criquet M, Roure R, Dayan L, Nollent V, Bertin C. Safety and efficacy of personal care products containing colloidal oatmeal. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2012;5:183-193. doi:10.2147/CCID.S31375

  4. University of Michigan Medicine. Chickenpox: Controlling the Itch.

  5. White LB, Seeber BH, Grognan BB. 500 Time-Tested Home Remedies and the Science Behind Them: Ease Aches, Pains, Ailments, and More With Hundreds of Simple and Effective At-Home Treatments. Fair Winds Press.

  6. Fowler JF. Colloidal oatmeal formulations and the treatment of atopic dermatitis. J Drugs Dermatol. 2014;13(10):1180-1183.

  7. American Academy of Dermatology. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac: How to treat the rash.

  8. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Shingles.

  9. Reynertson KA, Garay M, Nebus J, et al. Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(1):43-48.

Additional Reading

By Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown is a parenting writer with experience in the Head Start program and in NAEYC accredited child care centers.