Colloidal Oatmeal: a Dream Ingredient for Rosacea Sufferers


Colloidal Oatmeal is a versatile and multi-functional compound.

This paper details the history and chemistry of colloidal oatmeal and shows how its’ chemical polymorphism leads to many useful clinical properties.

Of most interest to rosacea sufferers are the cleansing, moisturizing, buffering, soothing, protecting and anti-inflammatory properties.

Colloidal Oatmeal may well be the dream ingredient for rosacea friendly products.

The following table summarizes the paper’s detailing of the components of colloidal oatmeal and the corresponding clinical benefits obtained.

Colloidal Oatmeal ComponentClinical Property
starches and [beta]-glucanprotection and water-holding or moisturizing
phenolsanti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory
flavanoidsUVA absorption
vitamin Eantiphotodamage and anti-inflammatory
avenacinsantifungal and soap-like

Colloidal Oatmeal is defined as a product made from grinding and processing whole oat grain with strict requirements on the particle size and fat content. The small particle size and the way that it disperses in water means that when it deposits on the skin it forms an occlusive barrier.

The paper lists references to colloidal oatmeal being used as a therapy for swimmer’s itch, chickenpox, poison ivy, oak and sumac, insect bites, winter itch, atopic dermatitis, dry skin, allergic or irritant dermatitis, ichthyosis – as well as prickly heat, hives, sunburn and rashes.

Colloidal oatmeal: history, chemistry and clinical properties, J Drugs Dermatol. 2007 Feb;6(2):167-70, Kurtz ES, Wallo W., Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Company, Scientific Affairs Department, Skillman, NJ 08558, USA.

Abstract: Oatmeal has been used for centuries as a soothing agent to relieve itch and irritation associated with various xerotic dermatoses. In 1945, a ready to use colloidal oatmeal, produced by finely grinding the oat and boiling it to extract the colloidal material, became available. Today, colloidal oatmeal is available in various dosage forms from powders for the bath to shampoos, shaving gels, and moisturizing creams. Currently, the use of colloidal oatmeal as a skin protectant is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) according to the Over-The-Counter Final Monograph for Skin Protectant Drug Products issued in June 2003. Its preparation is also standardized by the United States Pharmacopeia.

Ellen S. Kurtz PhD and Warren Wallo are employees of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc, the manufacturer of Aveeno products. The preparation of this manuscript was sponsored in full by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc.

More Background and Links

Dr. Wu’s paper on treating rosacea with herbs had this to say about Oatmeal ;

The US Food and Drug Administration classifies colloidal oatmeal (the powder resulting from the grinding and processing of whole oat grain) as a skin protectant ingredient that “provides temporary skin protection and relieves minor skin irritation and itching due to poison oak, poison ivy, poison sumac, and insect bites.” The properties that make oatmeal useful for these itchy and allergic conditions, however, make it an especially efficacious ingredient for rosacea therapies

First, oatmeal is a potent antipruritic. The moisturizing properties of colloidal oatmeal alleviate itch due to dry skin. These properties, in turn, promote protection of barrier function, which is often impaired in rosacea patients. Oatmeal also works as a skin protectant and enhancer of barrier function as the proteins and polysaccharides bind to skin to provide a protective barrier, while proteins buffer both acids and bases.

Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties. A study by Saeed and associates reported that a 10% colloidal oatmeal suspension inhibited prostaglandin synthesis by as much as 85%. The magnitude of prostaglandin inhibition was similar to that reported with indomethacin.

Finally, oatmeal is an effective cleanser that contains saponins that absorb dirt, oil, and sebaceous secretions while hydrophilic and lipophilic components absorb and solubilize aqueous debris.

Dr. Linda Sy was inspired by rosacea support group members making their own cleansing masks with oatmeal and water. She wondered if she could use colloidal oatmeal as a basis for a gentle rosacea cleanser. An extra bonus would be that it could sop up flakes associated with seborrheic dermatitis. This cleanser is well liked by the members of rosacea support. I find it cleanses really well, but does leave a slight tight feeling – which can be relieved with a gentle moisturizer.

We also know that after as little as 1 week using a colloidal oatmeal lotion (containing colloidal oatmeal, oat extract, humectants and a skin protectant) patients can see relief from dry itchy or scaly skin.

Johnson & Johnson, who make the Aveeno (avena is latin for oats) and Active Naturals range of products has a page on Oatmeal from their Aveeno Professional Site.

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Tips: do you have any tips for Colloidal Oatmeal that you’d like to share ? please leave a comment below.

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About the Author

About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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8 Reader Comments

  1. Lori C. says:

    I have just started using Oatmeal and warm water to cleanse my face. I love the results! I have had Rosacea for 20 years and the topical antibiotics no longer work. The oatmeal gave me a smooth, even skin tone. I still have a little bit of dryness though. I need to find a moisturizer that I am not allergic to. I have combo skin. It would look a little dry at my cheeks when I am done washing, but by the afternoon, I have a slight shine to my cheeks. The oatmeal has made my pores look smaller and my scales are practically gone!

    I must tell you that I cannot use Aveeno products at all. I am allergic to them. For me, I need to stay as natural as possible. Who would have thought that putting regular oatmeal and water on my face would help my Rosacea and all the nasty symptoms I would get with it? I no longer have the burning and irritation either!

  2. sandra says:

    i recently found a natural ingredient soap that contains oatmeal and lavender oil which seems to be relieving my rosacea symptoms. it’s called CALM bath bar. by a company called Nature clean. (in a purple and white box). Here’s their website for more information:

  3. B Price says:

    I just purchased some First Aid Balm (FAB) from Sephora. It has oatmeal as one of the ingredients and is very mild. I have atopic dermatitis and/or rosacea depending on which dermatologist I seen and have been on tetracycline for years but prefer not to take drugs for the rest of my life. I put a sample of this cream on in the store and it immediately calmed my skin. Wish me luck!

  4. David Silver says:

    I have mild rosacea with the bumps that take a long time to go away. My skin also tends to be itchy especially in the winter. I spent a lot of time researching colloidal oatmeal products on the market. I found (and I’m using successfully) Aveeno Baby Cleansing Therapy Moisturizing Wash on my face. it is very gentle and has colloidal oatmeal in it. For moisturizer I use Aveeno Skin Relief 24hr moisturizing lotion. Both these products work well.

  5. Carolyn says:

    Can colloidal oatmeal help in the treatment of Pityriasis Rosea?
    Any advice on treatment would be much appreciated please.

    • Mary Lou Toomey says:

      I used retina A .05 %for my rosecia and it’s ,almost gone. Drink green tea twice a day and at night drink ginger tea. Keep your diet very alkaline.

  6. “I’m always looking for it and can only find it in one eczema lotion”

  7. I don’t have the spots & pustules just very reactive skin after having to take the oral steroid Prednisilone after suffering acute Adrenal failure. I can’t watch tv for longer than 20 minutes or I look & feel like a burns victim, & cry with the sheer heat & pain. I would love to try these turmeric polyherbal capsules, as my quality of life is greatly it available to buy in the UK? Any form of heat sets it off. I also have steroid induced rosacea in my eyes & they burn I do use the Aveeno face wash with no problems as ling as the water is tepid. At 66 with Raynauds Syndrome my extremities are freezing while my face feels like a furnace. I already take turmeric tablets for their anti inflammatory content

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