What Is Colloidal Oatmeal?
Colloidal oatmeal has a complex chemical composition that includes proteins, lipids, polysaccharides, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals.

Colloidal oatmeal is a natural product made by finely crushing oat grains (Avena sativa) into a powder. The term “colloid” is used by chemists to describe a dispersed combination of one material suspended in another, and colloidal oatmeal is oats in water.

What are the different forms of colloidal oatmeal?

Fine-grounded oats spread equally and blend thoroughly in a liquid. Colloidal oatmeal is used in various skin care treatments. It comes in several forms, including:

  • Creams
  • Powders
  • Gels
  • Shower gels
  • Shampoos
  • Cleansers
  • Ointments
  • Moisturizers

Colloidal oatmeal has a complex chemical composition that includes proteins, lipids, polysaccharides, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals. As oatmeal is known to have various properties, such as cleansing, moisturizing, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory, it has a long history of usage in skin care.

What is colloidal oatmeal used for?

In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized colloidal oatmeal as an effective skin-protectant medication to reduce irritation or dryness associated with several skin problems.

Colloidal oatmeal has water-attracting properties and helps the skin retain moisture due to its high concentration of complex carbohydrates, such as beta-glucan, saponins, vitamins, flavonoids, and avenanthramides, which have antioxidant characteristics.

  • Lipids: Reduce dryness and irritation by replacing the skin's lost oils.
  • Beta-glucans: Promote collagen formation to moisturize and repair the skin.
  • Antioxidants: Attack free radicals that cause signs of aging, such as wrinkles, dark spots, and loose, saggy skin.
  • Avenanthramides: Are powerful antioxidants that decrease redness and inflammation (particularly sun sensitivity).

Commercial colloidal oatmeal is not intended for consumption, but basic, pure colloidal oatmeal made from ordinary oats at home is simply oats crushed up and powdered. So, while colloidal oatmeal is designed for topical use, if you make it at home by grinding up your breakfast oats, it is completely edible.

Colloidal oatmeal can increase skin moisture, so it is used in skin care formulations because it moisturizes the skin, reduces irritation, and helps treat eczema and dermatitis.

Though it has traditionally been used to treat eczema, it can alleviate irritation caused by cosmetic products. Ingredients, such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and retinoids, can irritate the skin and damage its natural barrier; colloidal oatmeal may help alleviate this irritation.


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What are the components of colloidal oatmeal and their use?

Oats have special advantages due to their natural composition and chemical capabilities that make them particularly suitable for sensitive and dry skin concerns. Oats are thought to have a chemical composition, which is great for the skin. So, it is often recognized as a "miracle" ingredient.

Polysaccharides (including beta-glucans), proteins, lipids, saponins, vitamin E, minerals, antioxidants (including avenanthramides), and other protective substances are the key components of colloidal oatmeal.

  • Lipids
    • Oats contain healthy fats or unsaturated fatty acids
    • These lipids nourish, reduce dryness moisturize and soften the skin texture
    • Help rebuild the skin barrier and replace the skin's lost oils in severely damaged dry and irritated skin
    • The strong antioxidants in oatmeal will prevent oxidization (spoiling) of unsaturated fats
  • Beta-glucans
    • Are polysaccharide components with strong hygroscopic (water-holding) properties
    • Draw moisture to the skin's surface layers, increasing hydration levels
    • Help reduce the appearance of roughness, flakiness, redness, and fine wrinkles
  • Avenanthramides
    • Phenolic components have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help decrease itching and the appearance of roughness, flakiness, and fine lines
    • Decrease redness and inflammation (particularly sun sensitivity)
  • Saponins
    • Glycoside molecules with a chemical structure that has both hydrophobic (water-hating) and hydrophilic (water-loving) components
    • Produce a foaming effect that can be used in cleaning applications

Additionally, colloidal oatmeal has a wonderful pH-buffering capacity. This helps regulate the pH levels of the skin, which could be calming for itchy skin, especially reducing the annoying itch cycle.

9 benefits of colloidal oatmeal

  1. Moisturizes skin: Oatmeal is high in proteins and lipids and has strong emollient characteristics, making it an excellent moisturizer. It has anti-inflammatory vitamin E, as well as phenols and starches to help with moisturization.
  2. Reduces itching: Oatmeal contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics that help treat irritation caused by dry, irritated skin. Oatmeal baths that you get to treat chickenpox were designed to soothe itchy, irritated skin.
  3. Fights acne: Oatmeal contains zinc, which is beneficial to patients with acne. Zinc is known to fight acne-causing microorganisms, reduce inflammation, and help heal acne scars. Oats absorb excess oil, which leads to blackheads and congested pores. Oatmeal contains vitamin B and selenium, which help defend against the free radicals that cause acne breakouts.
  4. Improves eczema: Eczema is a disorder that can leave people with itchy, dry, inflamed areas of skin all over their bodies. This is due to abnormalities on the surface of the epidermis, which prevents it from maintaining the necessary moisture. Components in oats are often advised for eczema patients, both adults and children, because they help improve the outer barrier of the skin and have anti-inflammatory properties that alleviate irritation. Two clinical trials published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology in 2017 found that using a one percent colloidal oatmeal cream alone alleviated symptoms of mild to moderate eczema.
  5. Exfoliation: Colloidal oatmeal is a natural exfoliator, revealing softer, brighter complexions, by removing dead skin cells and functioning as a natural cleanser. It is a nice scrub that brings shine to the skin.
  6. Soothes sun damage: Colloidal oatmeal is an excellent natural sunburn remedy because it eases skin irritation. Aside from its soothing characteristics, colloidal oats can absorb ultraviolet rays due to the natural flavonoids they contain. Flavonoids have a natural potential to give photoprotection.
  7. Deep cleanser: Oats contain saponins, making them an excellent natural skin cleanser. They are mild and help effectively remove pollutants from the skin without stripping or drying it.
  8. Strengthens skin barrier: Your skin has a skin barrier that limits water loss and protects your skin from harsh environmental factors. Several internal and environmental variables, such as weather and ultraviolet radiation, may harm this skin layer. This skin barrier may be strengthened by colloidal oatmeal.
  9. Prevents transepidermal water loss: Natural colloidal oatmeal forms a layer on the skin's surface. The usage of oatmeal regularly minimizes the quantity of water lost in the skin and increases overall skin hydration. However, further research is needed to fully comprehend this process. Colloidal oatmeal's carbohydrates may contribute to its water-binding characteristics.

What are the risks associated with colloidal oatmeal?

Colloidal oatmeal is typically safe for all skin types, even for sensitive skin, but a skin reaction may develop, especially if you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity. If you already know you are allergic to oats, you must avoid colloidal oatmeal.

Although allergic responses are exceedingly rare, they should be considered. If you have an adverse response, such as hives, burning, or stinging, stop using the product. If the inflammation persists, consult your doctor.

Colloidal oatmeal skin care solutions have a few documented adverse effects. A study in 2012 suggested that colloidal oatmeal is a safe and useful component in personal care products. Evaluation of oatmeal-containing items including cleansers, creams, and lotions showed a very low irritating and allergic sensitization potential. Consumers reported no allergies to 445,820 goods sold during three years.


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Medically Reviewed on 6/24/2022
Image Source: Getty image

TabletWise. Colloidal Oatmeal. https://www.tabletwise.net/medicine/colloidal-oatmeal

WebMD. What to Know About Colloidal Oatmeal. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/what-to-know-about-colloidal-oatmeal

Kurtz ES, Wallo W. Colloidal oatmeal: history, chemistry and clinical properties. J Drugs Dermatol. 2007 Feb;6(2):167-70. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17373175/