Using Oatmeal to Treat Dry Skin

Oatmeal is incredibly useful for treating dry skin. Here’s a look at the benefits of oatmeal and instructions for two homemade moisturizing products.Now that the cold, dry air of winter has been present for several weeks, my skin has become very dry and itchy. Are you and your family members experiencing this, too?

I recently discovered the effectiveness of oatmeal at providing relief for my dry skin (especially for the patches of eczema that I have). Here’s a look at the benefits of oatmeal and instructions for two simple homemade moisturizing products that I make to alleviate my dry, itchy skin.

Why oatmeal?

According to researchers, oatmeal contains several compounds that have moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, soothing, buffering, and cleansing properties. Oatmeal is usually ground into a fine powder and dispersed in a liquid before being applied to the skin (when prepared in this way it is referred to as colloidal oatmeal).

When colloidal oatmeal is spread on the skin, the small particles of oatmeal form an occlusive barrier. This barrier keeps moisture in (which alleviates dryness and itch) and blocks out external agents. Additionally, avenanthramides, substances in oatmeal that have antioxidant activity, have anti-inflammatory effects similar to hydrocortisone 1%. (I’ve listed my sources for this information at the bottom of the post.)

Homemade moisturizing products made with oatmeal

Unlike many medications and commercially produced lotions used to treat dry skin, oatmeal has low allergenic sensitization potential (i.e., it isn’t likely to cause allergic reactions) and it’s readily available and affordable.

Oatmeal moisturizing cream

-3/4 cup coconut oil
-1/4 cup oats
-5-10 drops lavender essential oil or another anti-inflammatory oil such as frankincense or thyme (optional)
-Small lidded jar


Use a food processor or coffee grinder to finely grind the oats. Place the coconut oil in a small pan and heat it on the stove over low heat. Once the coconut oil has liquefied, turn off the heat and stir in the essential oil and oats. Continue to stir frequently as the cream begins to cool (this ensures the oats remain evenly distributed throughout the oil). Once it reaches a pudding-like consistency, pour it into a small jar. Allow it to cool completely before using.

Homemade Oatmeal Moisturizing Cream | Oatmeal is incredibly useful for treating dry skin. Here’s a look at the benefits of oatmeal and instructions for two homemade moisturizing products.


This cream is wonderful! It alleviates the burning itch of dry skin on contact and provides long-lasting moisture. The coconut oil liquefies when it comes in contact with body heat, so a little bit of the cream goes a long way. It’s obviously an oil-based cream, so allow it to absorb before coming into contact with fabrics that might stain.

Oatmeal bath infuser

-9 x 9 inch square of cheesecloth
-1 x 18 inch strip of cheesecloth
-6 inch strip of decorative ribbon (optional)
-2/3 cup oats
-5 drops lavender essential oil or another anti-inflammatory oil (optional)


Place the oats in the center of the square of cheesecloth. Sprinkle with 5 drops essential oil. Tie together the corners of the square so you create a bag. Secure the corners with the strip of cheesecloth, leaving a loop by which to hang the bag (see image below). Adorn with ribbon.

Homemade Oatmeal Bath Infuser | Oatmeal is incredibly useful for treating dry skin. Here’s a look at the benefits of oatmeal and instructions for two homemade moisturizing products.

Hang the infuser on the bath faucet so water runs over it as you fill the tub (the water will turn a milky white color). Once you turn the water off, drop the infuser in the water and allow it to steep for the remainder of the bath. When finished with your bath, dispose of the oatmeal, but keep the cheesecloth—you can wash it and reuse it!


I love using an infuser to gently scrub my skin in lieu of a washcloth or bath pouf. The silky liquid it emits is very moisturizing and soothing. I love these so much that I am going to begin making them as gifts!

If you don’t have time to make either of these but you want the benefits of oats, simply grind up oats (1/4 cup for infants and young children or 2/3 cup for older children and adults) and stir them into your bathwater. You can also purchase commercially prepared soothing bath treatments.

Do you use skincare products that contain oatmeal? Do they help you? What other things do you do to treat dry winter skin?

Sources: Criquet et al. (2012). Safety and efficacy of personal care products containing colloidal oatmeal. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 5, 183–193. | Eichenfield et al. (2012). Colloidal oatmeal formulations as adjunct treatments in atopic dermatitis. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 11(7), 804-807. | Pazyar et al. (2012). Oatmeal in dermatology: A brief review. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, 78(2), 142-145.

Shared on the following link-ups:

Whatever Goes Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, One Project at a Time, Frugal Crafty Home, Motivation Monday, Best of the Weekend, Saturday Show & Tell, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Creativity Unleashed & Anything Goes Linky.



  1. I’ve seen soaps and lotions that contain oatmeal before, but I always assumed it was a gimmick.
    You’re right that the infusers look like they’d make fun homemade gifts.

    • The oatmeal really does make a difference! I had never looked into it before, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how many studies have shown the wide array of benefits.

  2. I came from Creativity Unleashed Link Party. I followed the oatmeal skin moisturizer link, that looks great. But as I went to your pinterest page, I found so many common interests you have a new subscriber!

    • Hi Janet,
      The moisturizer has been great for me. I hope you find it to be beneficial.
      I’m glad you visited my Pinterest page and discovered our common interests. Welcome to the community!

  3. I love oatmeal baths in the winter, they’re definitely helpful for dry skin! Pinning this, and thanks so much for sharing at Creativity Unleashed!

  4. Marie Rathie says:

    excellent stuff. I use the oatmeal oil for my massage clients, they love it especially during these cold winter days..a little goes a long way, I use use compression pats at the end of massage to remove excess….I love it as a deep hair and scalp conditioner too..

  5. Hello I was wondering if I can use shea butter instead of coconut oil?

    • Shannon says:

      Hi Neisha,
      I’m pretty sure that would work just fine. I haven’t made it with shea butter personally, but it should produce a similar cream.
      Give it a try and let us know how it turns out! 🙂

  6. Ive tried a couple different mousturizers with oatmeal including this one and the consistency is always grainy. It never gets creamy and then what I put it on, it feels like the oatmeal is left just sitting on the top of my skip. The oatmeal is ground as fine as possible. Also, when I put in a jar for it to harden most of the oatmeal just falls to the bottom. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong?

    • Hi Cori,
      No, I don’t think you are doing anything wrong. This happens to me, as well. I just let the moisturizer soften and stir it really well to get the oatmeal suspended throughout the oil again. I don’t think it is possible to make it creamy without other ingredients and/or industrial equipment (like a homogenizer). The grainy texture can be a bit of an annoyance, but it still seems to get the job done. In fact, it works really well on my daughter’s eczema.

  7. Hello, I made your oatmeal moisturizing cream about 2 hours ago and it’s still liquid, what did I do wrong,

    • Shannon says:

      Hi Angelica,
      My guess is that the ambient temperature in the room is probably too high for it to solidify. Coconut oil is a liquid when the temp is above 76 degrees F. It becomes a solid below this temp. During the summer months, I usually have to store this cream in the fridge or it remains a liquid. Hope this helps!

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