Colloidal Oatmeal: What Exactly Is Colloidal Oatmeal And How Can It Help Your Sensitive Skin?



What Is Colloidal Oatmeal?

Colloidal oatmeal is ground oatmeal that has been made into a liquid so that it can be better absorbed by the skin. Colloidal oatmeal is used in skincare formulations as it helps to moisturize the skin, reduce irritation, and help support the treatment of eczema and dermatitis.

Colloidal oatmeal is generally used to improve moisture and hydration in the skin. Traditionally it has been an important part of treating eczema but has also found a new application in offsetting the irritation that is associated with skincare products. Ingredients such as AHAs, BHAs, and retinoids can irritate the skin and cause disruption to the skin’s natural barrier, colloidal oatmeal may help to reduce this irritation.

Colloidal Oatmeal

the good: Helps to reduce irritation and itchiness. It also helps to reduce water loss and protect the skin from damage and barrier disruption.

the not so good: Depending on the level of irritation and sensitivity you are experiencing, even colloidal oatmeal may cause some stinging and burning.

Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.

Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.

Keep an eye on: If you have an oat allergy it may be best to avoid colloidal oatmeal.

What Are The Benefits of Colloidal Oatmeal?

Most of the main benefits of colloidal oatmeal are about protecting, hydrating and soothing the skin, focusing on maintaining the health of the skin’s natural barrier.


Protects the skin

Colloidal oatmeal helps to support the health of the skin barrier. The skin barrier consists of the first few outer layers of skin, fatty acids, ceramides and cholesterols which help to trap moisture and water in the skin. Often when the skin has been irritated, over-exfoliated or is inflamed, the skin barrier can become disrupted. This allows water-based moisture to leave the skin readily, reducing the skin’s ability to maintain its water levels. This process is called transepidermal water loss or TEWL.



Colloidal oatmeal is mainly used for its soothing properties, particularly on irritated or barrier disrupted skin. Its soothing properties come from its ability to hold moisture and act as an emollient to calm redness and reduce itching. It is also thought that colloidal oatmeal may have some mild anti-inflammatory benefits to the skin as well. This may be due to the phenols that occur naturally in the oats that oatmeal is made from. Phenols may even help to reduce UV radiation. Although don’t go switching out your sunscreen for colloidal oatmeal, it’s only a mild effect.

Is Colloidal Oatmeal Safe to Use If You Are Gluten Free or Celiac?

Yes, colloidal oatmeal is safe for use for celiacs and the gluten intolerant. Studies suggest that gluten containing body products only pose an issue to those with celiac disease when large quantities of the product are ingested. As celiac disease and gluten intolerance, both are gut-based conditions the gluten-containing product would need to be ingested for it to cause any harm.

There is no evidence to suggest that gluten can be absorbed through the skin, causing a reaction or increasing inflammatory markers in your blood. Some people with celiac disease may experience a type of dermatitis which is caused by the ingestion of gluten rather than topical exposure.

Is Colloidal Oatmeal Safe?

A study published in the International Journal of Toxicology has evaluated the safety of oat-derived products. The review study investigated some colloidal oatmeal products, those which are derived from Avena sativa, a specific strain of oat. The review determined that there is limited evidence to suggest that oat-derived product cause irritation, sensitivity or toxic side effect and is safe in its current indicated uses and concentratiuons.

Sobhan M, Hojati M, Vafaie SY, Ahmadimoghaddam D, Mohammadi Y, Mehrpooya M. The Efficacy of Colloidal Oatmeal Cream 1% as Add-on Therapy in the Management of Chronic Irritant Hand Eczema: A Double-Blind Study. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2020;13:241-251. Published 2020 Mar 25.
Reynertson KA, Garay M, Nebus J, Chon S, Kaur S, Mahmood K, Kizoulis M, Southall MD. Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015 Jan;14(1):43-8.


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