My sons have very sensitive skin. We are constantly battling hives, eczema, diaper rashes and other irritations. Lately I have found oatmeal baths to be one of the best remedies - it is natural, cheap, and easy to use.
Putting oatmeal in your bath water is one of those folk remedies known to heal things like bug bites/stings, sunburns, psoriasis, rashes, chicken pox, and many other common skin problems.
Here is why oatmeal helps soothe skin:
- The saponins (the coating of the oat) act as a natural cleanser by absorbing dirt and oil, normalizing your skin's pH balance. In plants, saponins protect against fungi and microbes (the avenacins in the oats are also antifungal). Although you don't want to consume the saponins in your oatmeal (this is why you soak them), they are believed to be beneficial helping to heal skin irritation.
- The phenols and flavanoids in the oats provide UV protection and fight free radicals. These are ingredients you often see added to anti-aging creams.
- Oatmeal also contains Vitamin E, which helps fight inflammation.
How to prepare an oatmeal bath
You are supposed to grind your oats into a powder so that when water is added, they are evenly dispersed and do not just simply sink to the bottom of the tub. This ground oatmeal is called colloidal oatmeal.I use a method that saves me a step. Simply take either the leg on an old pair of hose or one of your trouser socks and fill it with whole oats. You can use this as an oatmeal "teabag" in the tub.
Colloidal simply means "gelatinous". By taking my bag of oatmeal and squeezing it, I can feel a "gluelike" residue filling the tub.
Once I have steeped the bag in the water long enough that the water looks cloudy, I then take the actual bag and rub it over the rash, making sure to squeeze the "juice" from the oats directly over it.
Your skin will feel slimy to the touch when you are done, but don't rinse off before you leave the tub. The residue will help protect your skin.
After you are done with the bag of oatmeal, just squeeze out the oats, turn it inside out and rinse. You can reuse the hosiery over and over again.
What about the oatmeal bath products sold in stores?
Aveeno products are the most common oatmeal-based products and actually score well on the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. The ingredients in the Soothing Baby Bath Treatment are: mineral oil, laureth-4, calcium silicate, and colloidal oatmeal. The only questionable ingredient is the laureth-4, which is actually a skin and eye irritant (it seems silly to treat your skin with something that will irritate it).
Why purchase a product with extra ingredients that may not be helping you, when you can use the real thing for much cheaper?