An oatmeal bath can help soothe baby's eczema symptoms. Here's our step-by-step guide to giving your baby an oatmeal bath.
Daily bathing and regular moisturizing are essential to managing your baby's eczema. But if baby's eczema keeps flaring up, an added oatmeal bath is one way to help relieve the itch.
In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology and the National Eczema Association both share that finely ground oatmeal may help soothe eczema babies' skin, including when the oatmeal's mixed into a bath.
Why does oatmeal work so well as an eczema treatment?
Oatmeal contains antioxidants called avenanthramides, which studies have shown can help reduce the inflammation of eczema. Oatmeal can also help moisturize baby's skin and relieve itching.
Now that you know the benefits of oatmeal for eczema, here's our step-by-step guide to giving your baby an oatmeal bath.
Note: Please talk to your dermatologist before giving baby an oatmeal bath. They will let you know how long baby should soak in the bath.
1. Choose whether you'll buy or make colloidal oatmeal.
Colloidal oatmeal is another name for finely ground oats. When oats are ground up into a very fine powder, it's easier for baby's skin to absorb the nutrients they hold (including the avenanthramides).
Finely ground oats also stay mixed into bathwater instead of sinking to the bottom of the bath. So, when they're mixed with bathwater, they're an effective way to help soothe baby's eczema symptoms.
You can find premade colloidal oatmeal at health and beauty stores. If you choose to buy it this way, make sure the oatmeal package says "colloidal oatmeal. Also, make sure that oats are the only ingredient. (This way, you won't have to worry about ingredients that could irritate baby's skin).
But you can also make colloidal oatmeal at home--- and you'll spend less in the process. In our next step, we'll go over how to make your own bath oatmeal for your baby.
2. If you're making your own colloidal oatmeal, grind oats in a food processor.
You can make colloidal oatmeal on your own by grinding up oats into a fine powder using a food processor.
Unflavored instant oats, quick oats, or slow cooking oats work equally well. Just make sure oats are the only ingredient in the oatmeal you grind up.
Here's how to grind the oatmeal:
- Add one cup of oats into a food processor.
- Grind up the oats into a fine powder, using the food processor's highest setting.
- Make sure the oats are fine enough to absorb water--- stir one tablespoon of the powder in a glass of warm water to test.
- If the oat powder gives the water a milky appearance and silky feel, and readily absorbs the water, it's ready for the bath.
- If the oats don't make the water milky, you'll need to grind them up even more finely, and then test the powder again. Repeat the process until the oat powder has passed the water test.
Learn more on how to make and test colloidal oatmeal:
3. Fill the bath and add the oatmeal.
Run a bath of warm (not hot) water. Make sure the temperature is not too hot for baby. While the bath is filling, pour ⅓ cup of the colloidal oatmeal directly into the bath. Stir the bath with your hand several times to make sure the oatmeal is distributed evenly. Break up any oatmeal clumps that you find on the bottom of the tub.
Another option for adding the oatmeal into the bath is with a muslin bag, cheesecloth, or pantyhose. This will keep the oatmeal from leaving too much of a mess at the bottom of the tub. It also works well if you find you can't grind the oatmeal as finely as you'd like.
Pour the oatmeal into the bag, cheesecloth or pantyhose (if using the cheesecloth or pantyhose, tie the end so the oatmeal won't pour out).
Then, place the bag in the bath and let the oatmeal mix in. Again, mix the bath to make sure the oatmeal is distributed evenly.
4. Have baby soak in the oatmeal.
Let your baby soak in the oatmeal for as long as your baby's dermatologist recommends. Many dermatologists recommend having baby soak for 10-15 minutes.
Keep baby safe while you bathe them in the oatmeal.
Don't let baby eat the finely ground oats in the bath. Also, make sure that baby doesn't slip, especially when getting them out of the bath, because the oatmeal powder will make the bottom of the bath slicker than normal.
5. Pat baby dry and apply moisturizer.
Gently pat baby dry with a clean, soft towel. Leave enough water on the skin that it feels damp. You'll need some moisture to stay on the skin so you can "seal" it into baby's skin with moisturizer.
As with all baby eczema baths, apply baby eczema moisturizer within three minutes of the oatmeal bath. This will "seal" the moisture into baby's skin, so the benefits of the oatmeal will last longer.
Ask your baby's dermatologist or pediatrician how often you should give your baby an oatmeal bath. Some dermatologists will recommend oatmeal baths as often as once or twice a day.
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