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What Is an Oatmeal Bath?

B. Miller
B. Miller

An oatmeal bath is a warm bath in which oatmeal is added to the water. Though any type of oatmeal can be used, it is generally best to choose oatmeal that has been ground more finely so it interacts best with the water. This type of bath is used for relaxation purposes, as well as to soothe itchy skin irritations. Poison ivy or poison oak, for example, might feel better if treated in this type of soothing bath. Dry skin, eczema, or chicken pox can also be temporarily relieved with a warm oatmeal bath. Keep in mind that very hot water can irritate the skin, so it is best just to run the bath with lukewarm water to prevent further itching.

One benefit to an oatmeal bath is that it is safe for people of all ages, including babies, and can be a great way to help babies who are suffering from dry skin without needing to apply lotions that can include strong chemicals. For older teens or adults, additional ingredients can be added to an oatmeal bath to make it more soothing and relaxing. Epsom salts can help to soothe sore muscles, for example, while scented lavender oil can help to increase feelings of relaxation.


Specific instructions for making an oatmeal bath can be found by searching online, but it is pretty hard to get it wrong. Simply run some water in the tub, sprinkle in the oatmeal, and continue running water to the desired height. It should look slightly milky; if not, just add a bit more oatmeal. If an individual prefers not to sprinkle the oatmeal directly into the water, another option is to put it into a mesh bag similar to a large tea bag, and allow it to soak into the water that way. Soak in the tub for as long as desired; generally 20 to 30 minutes, then pat the skin dry. Patting the skin instead of rubbing can help to prevent the skin from becoming itchy again.

Oatmeal may be added to a bath to make it more relaxing.
Oatmeal may be added to a bath to make it more relaxing.

Additional lotion can be applied after the bath, but it may not be necessary, because the oatmeal is very moisturizing. Because it is so gentle on the skin, some people find that taking multiple oatmeal baths per day can be helpful for painful skin conditions, such as eczema. Some people even add some milk to the water for its moisturizing properties. An oatmeal bath is one of the simplest and easiest ways to treat the skin without using chemicals.

Discussion Comments


@turquoise, @ddljohn-- I use to give my kids oatmeal baths when they had diaper rash as infants and toddlers. It used to work great! It also saved my daughter from unbearable pain from sores when she caught chickenpox in primary school. She had sores all over her body and the oatmeal bath made her feel much better.

I agree that the thinner the oatmeal, the better the results are but I've never heard of colloidal oatmeal before. I just grind regular oatmeal until it's pretty thin and add it to my bath water. Collodial oatmeal bath is probably a way to get people to pay more for good old oatmeal.

I think the most important part is putting the oatmeal in a sack so that it doesn't clog the tub. Those resealable tea bags were excellent for that.


@turquoise-- I'm glad your daughter has found relief with oatmeal baths. I think you may get even better results if you use a thinner type of oatmeal.

I've heard that the best type of oatmeal for oatmeal baths is colloidal oatmeal which is very very thin. It's distributed very evenly in water and absorbs much better into skin. It's said to make the water a bit gelatinous even.

I haven't bought direct colloidal oatmeal for baths, but I use bath products which have oatmeal in it. Even my dog uses a special shampoo with oatmeal because of his sensitive skin. Oatmeal bath is good for both humans and pets, it's great for itchy, flaky, really dry skin.


My infant developed eczema soon after she was born and we've been giving her oatmeal baths which appear to be the only thing that's working.

We've also tried various bath oils and wash for sensitive babies. But all of them were not gentle enough for my baby's skin and always irritated her in the bath.

I knew about oatmeal bath for eczema but I honestly didn't expect it to work so well. I use the kind of oatmeal we make porridge with and put it into a mesh bag. I leave the bag in the tub throughout the bath and it turns the water an off-white, creamy color.

I don't use any kind of cleanser with my daughter. I just wash her with the oatmeal water and her skin is never irritated. It does moisturize really well but I still follow up with baby lotion because of the eczema.

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    • Oatmeal.
    • Oatmeal may be added to a bath to make it more relaxing.
      By: olly
      Oatmeal may be added to a bath to make it more relaxing.
    • Epsom salts can be added to an oatmeal bath to soothe sore muscles.
      By: Brooke Becker
      Epsom salts can be added to an oatmeal bath to soothe sore muscles.
    • An oatmeal bath may temporarily relieve chicken pox.
      By: hartphotography
      An oatmeal bath may temporarily relieve chicken pox.
    • Oatmeal soothes irritated skin.
      By: Elena Schweitzer
      Oatmeal soothes irritated skin.