The power of oatmeal

I have very reactive skin. I become red and inflamed easily. Insect bites. Seams in clothing, especially bras. Clothing labels – the corners that are turned over become like razor blades on my neck and waist. Hot weather Dry air. Being sweaty.

Anything can set me off.

Mozzies and midgies love me. And their bites positively glow. Strangely, bites that have settled will become itchy again after I am bitten somewhere else. Particularly along my legs. Red and white flashes like aliens communicating to one another – a new one will awaken an old, dormant bite.

Then after whatever it is that has started me itching – a bite, clothing, heat – I start itching everywhere. And my skin feels hot and irritated.

I start breaking out in itchiness and redness all over. Even thinking about it now, I’m itching.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Last December I had one of those itchy days, when, out of no where, I had a thought.

Why not try some rolled oats in a lukewarm bath?

Don’t know why the idea came to me. It’s not as if I have read about it recently.


I tried it last month. It worked! Not only did it calm my skin, it made it silky. Like there’s a slight coating on my skin.

I popped just under two cups of quick cook oats in a mesh bag and dropped it in the bath as the water was running. In the bath I also squeezed the mesh bag so extra oat milk ran over my skin.


I did it again last night. But with much less oats. About one cup. And in a cool to cold bath as the temperature was over 30°.

Not only does this work for me, it’s environmentally friendly: very little processing involved in producing quick cook oats; very little waste; no packaging as the parts come in cardboard and the net bag is reused; I use most of the water to flush my toilet.

And the oat bath is thrifty. Much cheaper than any cream or bath product from the chemist. The only cream that stops me itching is a cortisone based one and you can’t coat your whole body in that.

11 thoughts on “The power of oatmeal

  1. Wow. I’ve never tried that. But I also get the phantom bite thing where a new bite sets of the itchiness of old bites.

    How hot is it?! I washed and conditioned my hair under a totally cold shower this morning. Imagine doing that normally! It felt blessedly cool, rather than something to brave for.

    I’m giving the oat bath a go! Have plenty of bites on my legs from the past few days at work.

    • Given where you’re working, I’d say you will get lots of bites. Which has reminded me why I couldn’t work there. I’d be covered; the bites would get infected; I’d have puss running down my legs.

      I leave the water in the bath and jump in it every so often and bath my feet. Only way I can cope with the 42° it is now.

  2. One of my daughters gets a lot of eczema and I have been trying to persuade her that porridge poultices are really good to stop the itching but she doesn’t believe me. Maybe I should send her this post..
    Mind you, historically I have had many terrible ideas so that may have something to do with her scepticism..

    • I’m not sure the oats will do anything for flaky skin but I’m sure it will sooth itchy skin. I can’t believe it stops mozzie bites itching on me. I’ve been hopping in and out and soaking in the bath all day (only way to cool in this 43° day) and instead of my skin being all dry and shrivelled, my skin is smooth and soft and silky. Why didn’t I discover it earlier? Hope your daughter tries it and that it works for her.

  3. I remember doing this decades ago when my children had chicken pox. Why I never thought to try it on my own dry, itchy skin simply eludes me–although temps here have been a tad cooler than yours (-2c), so a cool bath isn’t quite so enticing at the moment.

    • Oh god I wish it was -2°. It’s still 28° at 2am.

      I think that must have been when I read about oatmeal bath – when my sons had chicken pox too. It’s going back nearly 20 years. Though I can’t remember whether I actually tried it on them. One suffered so badly, I hope I did.

  4. My daughter had awful eczema as a toddler (she is now 33). A friend told me about an American paediatric dermatologist who recommended the following:

    Grind rolled oats in a food processor and add enough safflower oil to make a paste. This can be stored in the fridge almost indefinitely. Add a tablespoonful to a lukewarm bath. Do not use soap. Pat the body dry, do not rub.

    I have used this over the years to great effect for eczema, cracked heels, split, dry skin on my fingers and it is an absolute wonder.

    PS: It does make a mess of the bathtub but it is worth it for the results. Also, do be careful as the oil makes it slippery.

    • Thank you for sharing. I wonder why safflower oil and if macadamia oil would work too? When I sit in the oatmeal bath, I don’t use soap – come out clean and soft. The soft and silky feeing lasts longer than body lotion! Amazing.

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