Oatmeal Bath for Psoriasis: Can It Help or Hurt? | MyPsoriasisTeam

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Oatmeal Bath for Psoriasis: Can It Help or Hurt?

Posted on February 23, 2024

Dipping your toes into an oatmeal bath may bring back childhood memories of itchy chickenpox or poison ivy. Oatmeal baths are a longstanding natural home remedy, and there’s some real evidence that they can help people with psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions, like eczema, feel better.

“Oatmeal baths really help me when the itch is too much to bear,” said a MyPsoriasisTeam member.

If you’re on the fence about whether an oatmeal bath is worth trying, you may want to give it a chance. Oatmeal is a relatively cheap and low-risk ingredient that can help soothe the skin, at least temporarily. Here’s some background on this simple pantry staple and tips on how to make oatmeal baths work for you.

The Benefits of Oatmeal for Psoriasis

Oatmeal contains compounds that provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and moisturizing effects. The natural fats and sugars in oatmeal act as emollients that soften the skin. Oatmeal also protects skin cells against sun damage and suppresses properties of the immune system that may be associated with inflammatory skin conditions.

Oatmeal forms a protective layer on the skin, locking in moisture and preventing excessive drying, which is common in psoriatic skin. Research shows that the compounds in oatmeal help strengthen the skin barrier, which can be helpful for dry skin that’s healing from a psoriasis flare-up.

How To Prepare an Oatmeal Bath

Drawing an oatmeal bath can be done easily, using everyday household items. All you need is a cup of colloidal oatmeal (finely ground oats) and a warm bath. Hot water can make dry skin worse, so keep the temperature just comfortably warm. You can grind the oats into a fine powder in a food processor or blender to help them dissolve more easily and release the beneficial properties. Add the oatmeal to the bath, then stir the water to help the oats dissolve.

Soak in the oatmeal-infused water for 15 minutes — perhaps while listening to a guided meditation or relaxing music. After you get out, gently pat yourself dry. Rubbing can irritate sensitive skin.

If you don’t feel like preparing an oatmeal bath from scratch, you can buy an oatmeal-based skin care product. Members of MyPsoriasisTeam often discuss what works for them. “I find Aveeno oatmeal baths are great for my skin,” said one member.

“I have been using Walmart’s brand of colloidal oatmeal lotion, which does offer some relief,” shared another member.

Precautions Before Starting Oatmeal Baths

If you’re nervous about trying something new on your skin, you can take a few precautions before jumping into an oatmeal bath. Your health care provider can offer individualized advice and treatment options to help you get psoriasis symptoms under control.

It never hurts to perform a patch test on a small area of skin to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction to oatmeal. Oatmeal is unlikely to cause side effects, but individuals with sensitive skin may feel better about testing a small area first.

Don’t add fragrances or essential oils to the bathwater. Scented soaps or harsh bath products may react negatively with your skin and work against the benefits of an oatmeal bath. Keep it simple, and stick to gentle cleansers that won’t make skin itchiness worse.

Apply a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer immediately after patting dry. Moisturizing right away helps seal in the hydration your skin absorbed from the water in the tub.

The Role of Oatmeal Baths in Psoriasis Management

Oatmeal baths offer a complementary approach to managing psoriasis symptoms — they don’t replace your prescribed treatment plan. Although they may provide relief, they’re not a cure for psoriasis.

Psoriasis management often includes various treatment options like medication, lifestyle modifications, phototherapy (light therapy), and specific skin care products. Be sure to keep your dermatologist updated on any changes you make at home, including new self-care routines such as oatmeal baths.

Tips From MyPsoriasisTeam Members

Members of MyPsoriasisTeam have tried different variations of oatmeal baths and products to improve their skin. Here’s a snippet of insights that they’ve shared:

  • “Try using oatmeal in your bath. For your face, put oatmeal in a sock, and use it to clean your face when you wet it (the sock). On my face, I use Aveeno with oatmeal.”
  • “I use pink Himalayan mineral soak and colloidal oatmeal. I sit in the bath for about an hour every night. It loosens the excess skin, and after my bath, I use colloidal oatmeal lotion.”
  • “For your feet, try soaking them in real oatmeal. I make a mush with oatmeal and some warm water and soak my feet in it until it dries, about 20 minutes. Then, rinse the mush off with lukewarm water.”

Although everyone is different, it’s helpful to hear what works for other people with psoriasis. You can try tips from members or modify their advice to fit your lifestyle and personal preferences.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 125,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Have you tried oatmeal baths to soothe irritated skin during a psoriasis flare? If so, have you noticed any improvements in dryness or itchy skin? Post your suggestions in the comments below, or start a conversation on your Activities page.

Posted on February 23, 2024
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Jazmin N. McSwain, PharmD, BCPS completed pharmacy school at the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy and residency training at Bay Pines Veterans Affairs. Learn more about her here.
Anastasia Climan, RDN, CDN is a dietitian with over 10 years of experience in public health and medical writing. Learn more about her here.

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