Most parents tend to associate oatmeal baths with eczema, but did you know that they are great for heat rash and chicken pox too? In fact, they are great for other skin irritations and has been known to calm down inflamed skin.
Not all babies are born with perfect, smooth skin. Some struggle with baby acne, eczema and rashes on a daily basis. While there are over the counter products that you can use to keep skin irritations under control, do you really want to subject your baby’s skin to steroid creams and harsh chemicals? Not only are they expensive, but some are not actually formulated for babies and can only be used under the supervision of a doctor.
So it is no wonder why more and more parents are turning to natural alternatives to treat and ease their children’s conditions. Although an oatmeal bath is only meant to calm skin irritation, it is still important to diagnose the cause of the irritation and get it treated properly.
Why Oatmeal Helps
Oatmeal helps because when it is ground into a fine powder and added to warm water, it becomes colloidal oatmeal which acts as an emollient. Emollients are moisturising treatments applied directly to the skin to soothe and hydrate it. Colloidal oatmeal works by binding to your skin while serving as a protective barrier. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially categorised colloidal oatmeal as a skin protectant in 2003.
It is safe for babies and children; you can even use it yourself for itchy or dry skin problems. Of course, there are plenty of over the counter products that promises the same, but why not make it urself for a fraction of the price? Although effective, oatmeal baths should not be considered a cure for skin problems. Even dermatologists recommend oatmeal baths be used together with other moisturisers, fragrance-free products and (if needed) topical medications.
Oatmeal baths can significantly improve:
- Dry, itchy skin
- Cradle cap
- Diaper rash
- Heat rash
- Allergic reactions
DIY Oatmeal bath
All you need is:
- A blender/food processor/coffee grinder
- Warm water
- 1/3 cup for infants or up to 1 cup for adults (Quick, regular and rolled oats are all fine as long as they are unflavoured)
- If you cannot blend the oats fine enough, you can also put the oats in a muslin bag, cheesecloth or pantyhose before letting it soak in the warm water.
The first thing you need to do is blend or process the oats using the highest setting on your food processor, blender or coffee grinder until it becomes a very fine powder.
To test whether the powder is fine enough, you can stir in one tablespoon of the ground oats into a glass of warm water. If the oats dissolve into the water and change it into a milky-looking liquid that is silky to the touch, you’ve blended it long enough.
If it doesn’t turn milky, then you will need to continue processing the oats to a finer powder and repeat the test. An excellent tip to help minimise the residue on the bottom of the tub if you are unable to grind it fine enough is to put the oat powder into a small muslin bag, cheesecloth, or you can even tie it in a pantyhose.
How to give your baby an Oatmeal Bath
Step 1: Fill the tub with warm water and for safety reasons, always check that the water is not too hot. Hotter water may dry out your baby’s skin.
Step 2: Sprinkle the processed oatmeal into the tub in stage using small amounts at a time. You will need about a third of a cup for a baby bathtub and up to a cup for a full bathtub if you are doing an oatmeal bath for older children. The oatmeal should dissolve into the water and change into a milky colour.
Step 3: Place your baby gently into the bath and allow them to soak in the oat and water concoction for about 10-15 minutes if possible. Alternatively, you can also gently rub some of the oatmeal directly on their skin. Important tip: Remember to be careful when handling your baby or even older children in the bath. This oat and water mixture would make the tub more slippery than usual.
Step 4: After the bath, refrain from rubbing your baby or child with the towel to dry off. Instead, pat dry and follow up with a gentle moisturiser before dressing them.
Generally, oatmeal is an all-natural product that is safe for most people, including babies. There have been isolated cases of babies and children who have had an adverse reaction to oatmeal baths. If your baby or child’s skin is red and itchy after an oatmeal bath, do not attempt it again. Consult your doctor immediately so that he or she can prescribe medication to help the rash to clear up.