Sunday, December 4, 2011

What is Colloidal Oatmeal? And How Does it Help Eczema?

Please read my disclaimer before you continue reading.  
Thank you!

Simply speaking, colloidal oatmeal is very finely ground oatmeal.  Pretty easy explanation right!  

So what in the world is this stuff used for? 

First let me tell you that I ran across colloidal oatmeal from reading the ingredients off a bottle of Eucerin.  I've never purchased Eucerin, but I was curious why it is so popular and why so many people recommend it for my son's eczema and dry skin.  First, check out the ingredients in Eucerin.  I've linked research and information to some of the concerning ingredients from The Skin Deep Database

Glycerin, Cetyl Palmitate, Mineral Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Octyldodecanol, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Colloidal Oatmeal, Dimethicone, PEG - 40 Stearate, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Phexoxyethanol, DMDM Hydantion, Iodopropynyl, Butylcarbarmate.

I was very curious about this oatmeal so I did some research.

I ran across this great site dedicated to colloidal oatmeal.  I recommend checking it out, but I will also share information from this site here.  All quotes are from site link.

So back to the original question: 
What in the world is this stuff used for?

The popular use for colloidal oatmeal is in the bath.  
I have used this with my son.  I grind 2 cups of oatmeal in a coffee grinder and add it to his bath water.  Works great.  Please use oatmeal with caution if you have issues with gluten (or even if you aren't sure).  It's best to purchase certified gluten-free oats to avoid any averse reactions.  Please discuss the use of oatmeal as a means for holistic healing with a medical professional or holistic practitioner before using.     

"Colloidal oatmeal has properties that comfort itching, so it is a good choice for relieving the pains of eczema. Simply run your bath with lukewarm water, and while the tub is filling, add a packet (two to three cups) of colloidal oatmeal under the faucet to help disperse the oatmeal. Soak in the bath for ten to fifteen minutes. When you are ready to get out of the bath, Be Careful. The bathtub will be slick from the oatmeal. When drying, don't rub your skin since this can irritate the sore areas. Instead, pat yourself dry with a clean towel. This treatment can be taken up to three times daily to help ease the dry, itchy skin of eczema"

What a great holistic remedy for children and babies suffering from eczema (or adults for that matter).  My son's skin looks awful in the bath (like burns all over his legs) and so this is a great addition to bath time.  Wish I had this information when he was 6 months old with weepy eczema patches all over his body.  

How does it work?
"Colloidal oatmeal is simply oats ground into an extremely fine powder. When added to bathwater, it creates a milky dispersion that prevents the oatmeal from settling rapidly. So the oatmeal stays in the water and doesn't just sink to the bottom of the bath. When you get into the tub, the colloidal oatmeal feels silky, as it coats, moisturizes, softens, and protects your skin."

How do I use it?
"Run your bath with lukewarm water, and while the tub is filling, add a packet (two to three cups) of colloidal oatmeal under the faucet to help disperse the oatmeal. You may have the urge to take a hot bath, but this will only irritate the skin and remove moisture from your body, so a warm bath is preferable. Soak in the bath for ten to fifteen minutes. When you are ready to get out of the bath, BE CAREFUL. The bathtub will be slick from the oatmeal. When drying, don't rub your skin since this can irritate the sore areas. Instead, pat yourself dry with a clean towel."

I added colloidal oatmeal to my latest homemade eczema lotion (recipe coming soon) as a dry-skin remedy this winter.  

Check this out if you are interested in making large amounts of colloidal oatmeal.  But a coffee grinder or other blender will suffice.  

Colloidal oatmeal is also used for:
Poison Ivy
Diaper Rash
Insect Bites
picture credit
Shared on: Homestead Barn Hop & Traditional Tuesdays


  1. gfe--gluten free easilyJanuary 2, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    Just found this in my In Box, Amber. Colloidal oatmeal can indeed be helpful to some, but for those with gluten issues (and often folks don't know they have them) it can do more harm than good. Certified gluten-free oats should be used when making colloidal oatmeal to comfort anyone with gluten issues, and some folks can't even do certified gluten-free oats--ingested or topically. Don't mean to be a party pooper, but felt the need to point that out.

    Hope you are having a splendid new year, dear! xo,

  2. Hi There Shirley. You're so funny, you're not a party pooper at all! I appreciate the comment. I did make a note in the post about the gluten-free factor. Thanks!

    You make an excellent point and I could not agree more! I use only certified gluten-free oats when making colloidal oatmeal for my son (although he is not gluten intolerant, I still prefer this version of oats). I also use the certified gluten free oats in his (and our) itch-relief lotion. I just like the fact that certified gluten free is available, and you're so right, colloidal oatmeal is so wonderful for those with eczema and such a nice alternative to the steroids that are offered. The colloidal oatmeal lotion I made this winter has saved my sons's skin (and my husbands's poor hands). An alternative diet along with holistic remedies (such as these) has put my son't eczema into a nice state of remission. It flares from time to time with certain foods, or certain times of the year, but overall, I'm so glad my little guy is doing better!

    Thanks again Shirley for your wise insights! They are always appreciated on this end. :-)

    Hugs to you,

  3. Lots of great info! My 6 month old has awful eczema. I would love to know your colloidal oatmeal recipe if you're willing to share. I've been using calendula oil which is helpful but gets a bit pricey.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Great question. colloidal oatmeal can be added to any cream. Just a few teaspoons. It works for anti-itch relief, but too much can also dry out the skin (so be careful). If you're looking for an anti-itch relief cream, you can make your own by adding to homemade lotions. See my homemade link above. For every 8 ounces of lotion, add 2 teaspoons oatmeal. :-)

      I hope this helps.

    • Do you have any colloidal oatmeal bathoil recipe? Thank you very much


  4. My hands flare up in the winter and I have found vitamen e oil to be one of the only things that doesn't make things worse.

  5. Hi, I got one question for the oatmeal bath. Will the grounded oatmeal clog the drainage system? I do not have a bath tub and plan to soak myself in the small baby bath tub I use when I was younger but I am worried that after I soaked it and pour away, it will clog the bathroom.

    Also,do you have any other remedies for eczema? I am suffering from severe eczema when I turn 18 and have visited expensive skin centre, applied steroid creams for over 3 years, tried expensive pills with severe side effects and photo therapy but nothing works.

  6. Hi There,

    I can't say for sure if the oatmeal will clog your drainage. You only put in a small amount. It' meant to stop severe itching. It will have drying affect on the skin. I would start by just adding in 1/4 cup. See how that goes for you. If you feel no difference, try more next time and keep an eye out on your drainage.

    As for eczema remedies. I can't stress how important it is to change your diet (remove refined sugar, and cut down on other sugars such as fruit sugars or honey/maple syrup, remove dairy and perhaps soy). You have to know your food triggers. you might want to try an elimination diet. For example, eggs and citrus triggered my son's eczema at one time. Chocolate was triggering my husbands. But when we removed gluten and dairy from his diet, his eczema dramatically improved.

    Weather and climate also trigger symptoms. My husband and son cannot live in a very dry climate. My father-in-law lives my the coast here in California for his skin, and the humidity help it very much.

    I would also add in some pro-biotics, fish oils, and other healthy oils (such as coconut if you can eat it).

    Some research strongly suggests that skin conditions such as eczema is a response from an unhealthy gut. So focus should be on healing the gut, eating very healthy, managing stress (which can affect your immune system, and thus trigger an response).

    Lastly, you will want to use healing lotions (as a last remedy in your healing).

    visit this link to my website for a few different homemade lotions:

    I hope this information was helpful. Let me know how it works for you.

    Be Well,

  7. My son will be two in June and has eczema since he was three months I have tried everything including the oatmeal bath it helps! At bed time he does nothing but scratch we can we do at bed time to prevent him from itching so bad??

    • Hi Anonymous,

      I'm sorry to hear that your son is in such agony. My son did not itch like that before bed. We did not bathe him every night, kept his nails short, and extremely lathered up with lotion. We also used lanolin. It's a great barrier. But I cannot offer you any other advice. I'm not a doctor and cannot legally tell you to do anything. I can only suggest what's helped for our son and that's about it. I would speak to a holistic doctor about his skin condition. Good luck!

  8. Hi great info here! I tried making an "eczema body butter" but it's very grainy, is it always like that, or is there a way to make the powered even finer? I used my Vitamix so it's very fine powdered but once mixed with other stuff it makes it grainy. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot!

  9. Hi amber, I am so glad to have found your site. I've been taking oatmeal baths for my eczema (face and neck). I am going to get ingredients tomorrow and try making the sheabutter coco anti-itch cream! Thanks so much, I am also looking forward to trying out some of your recipes! I also believe it is a gut and diet thing...creams just helps to moisturize! Thanks so much! =) love and light


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