Dry Itchy Skin in Winter - Colloidal Oatmeal for Itch Relief

Posted by Dr. Natasha Ryz on

Oatmeal is a soothing agent that can relieve itch and irritation associated with winter dry skin and inflammatory skin diseases. 

This article will discuss:

    • What is winter dry skin?
    • What is colloidal oatmeal?
    • Is colloidal oatmeal safe?
    • Benefits of colloidal oatmeal
    • Colloidal oatmeal for itch relief
    • Active compounds in colloidal oatmeal
    • How to use colloidal oatmeal?
    • Summary
    • References
Itchy Skin in Winter - Colloidal Oatmeal for Itch Relief

What is winter dry skin?

'Winter dry skin' is dry skin that develops during the cold winter season.

Winter dry skin can have a wide spectrum of symptoms - from mild dryness and flaking to severe itching, redness and pain.

Winter dry skin symptoms are painful and frustrating, and often associated with skin conditions such as eczema or atopic dermatitis. 

Symptoms of winter dry skin include:

    • Loss of skin elasticity.
    • Skin feels tight, dehydrated.
    • Skin appears dull, rough and blotchy.
    • Slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling.
    • Fine lines and wrinkles are more pronounced.
    • May have irritation and a burning sensation.
    • Mild to severe itching.

Winter dry skin has been reported to involve scaling, defects in water holding and barrier functions, and decreased lipid levels in the stratum corneum (Ishikawa et al, 2013).

    Learn more: Winter Dry Skin - What is it?

      Itchy Skin in Winter - Colloidal Oatmeal for Itch Relief

      What is colloidal oatmeal?

      Oatmeal (Avena sativa) has been used for centuries as a soothing agent to relieve itch and irritation associated with various skin diseases. 

      Colloidal oatmeal is made by grinding whole oats, including the beneficial bran, into a very fine powder, with particles much smaller than oat flour.

      Colloidal oatmeal is not the same thing as oats you'd grind at home.

      Colloidal oatmeal is such a fine powder that it can be mixed into products and won't settle out or separate. This is why colloidal oatmeal can be used in moisturizing creams and lotions, without leaving a gritty feeling on your skin.

      If the product is formulated properly, a cream with colloidal oatmeal should feel velvety and smooth. 

      Itchy Skin in Winter - Colloidal Oatmeal for Itch Relief

      Is colloidal oatmeal safe?

      Colloidal oatmeal has an excellent safety record and is approved by FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) as an over-the-counter skin protectant (Kurtz et al, 2007).

      Avena sativa has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and clinical studies have not reported any adverse effects associated with its use (Cerio et al, 2010). 

      Colloidal oatmeal is well tolerated in children and adults for short-term and long-term use for itch relief (Cerio et al, 2010; Fowler et al, 2012).

      Benefits of colloidal oatmeal

      Colloidal oatmeal is a moisturizing skin protectant and is recommended for soothing irritated skin. 

      Creams containing 1% colloidal oatmeal have been shown to be effective for the management of mild to moderate eczema or atopic dermatitis in children (Lisante et al, 2017A; Lisante et al, 2017B) and hand dermatitis in adults (Sobhan et al, 2020).

      An over the counter 1% oatmeal cream was found to be equally effective and safe as the prescription barrier cream for the symptomatic treatment of mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis in children (Lisante et al, 2017A).

      Itchy Skin in Winter - Colloidal Oatmeal for Itch Relief

      Colloidal oatmeal for itch relief

      Symptoms including itch were improved after applying the 1% colloidal oatmeal cream, and improvements were maintained over the course of treatment. In some children, itch was immediately relieved after applying 1% colloidal oatmeal. Transepidermal water loss values were significantly reduced, and skin hydration was significantly increased throughout the study (Lisante et al, 2017A).

      A study on acute burn patients showed that the patients experienced less itching and requested significantly less antihistamine when using liquid paraffin with 5% colloidal oatmeal compared to liquid paraffin only (Matheson et al, 2001). 

       

      Itchy Skin in Winter - Colloidal Oatmeal for Itch Relief

      Active compounds of colloidal oatmeal

      Colloidal oatmeal contains various active compounds that have moisturizing, protective, soothing, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, including avenanthramides and beta-glucans (Fowler et al, 2012; Pazyar et al, 2012).

      The active ingredients in oatmeal consist of polysaccharides, beta-glucans, proteins, lipids, saponins, enzymes, flavonoids, vitamins, and avenanthramides.

      Avenanthramides from oats can reduce histamine release from mast cells (Cerio et al, 2010; Pazyar et al, 2012) and their topical application decreases inflammation and scratching in itch models (Fowler et al, 2012). Oatmeal produces a protective moisturizing barrier on the skin which helps to soften and moisten the skin and heal tissue, and reducing itch (Fowler et al, 2012).

      Itchy Skin in Winter - Colloidal Oatmeal for Itch Relief

      How to use colloidal oatmeal?

      Colloidal oatmeal can be mixed into lotions, creams, cleansers and other skincare products. Colloidal oatmeal can also be mixed into bathwater.  

      Colloidal oatmeal is so finely ground, that you don't feel any grittiness when it is added to skincare products. It feels smooth and comforting on your skin. 

      Colloidal oatmeal suspensions are available in many different products, including bath soaps, shampoos, shaving gels, and moisturizing creams.

      Also, lukewarm baths with colloidal oatmeal may restore skin barrier and sooth pruritus (Lisante et al, 2017). 

      Topical formulations of natural colloidal oatmeal should be considered an important component of therapy for atopic dermatitis and other skin conditions and may allow for reduced use of corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors (Cerio et al, 2010).

      Itchy Skin in Winter - Colloidal Oatmeal for Itch Relief

      Summary 

      'Winter dry skin' is dry skin that develops during the cold winter season.

      Winter dry skin can have a wide spectrum of symptoms - from mild dryness and flaking to severe itching, redness and pain.

      Colloidal oatmeal is a soothing agent that can relieve itch and irritation associated with winter dry skin and inflammatory skin diseases. 

      Colloidal oatmeal contains various active compounds that have moisturizing, protective, soothing, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, including avenanthramides and beta-glucans

      Colloidal oatmeal can be mixed into lotions, creams, cleansers and other skincare products. Colloidal oatmeal can also be mixed into bathwater.  

      Look for products that contain 1 - 5% colloidal oatmeal for best results.

       

      Do you want healthy skin?

      Sign up for Dry Skin Love Newsletter below

      Itchy Skin in Winter - Colloidal Oatmeal for Itch Relief

       

      References 

      Cerio R, Dohil M, Jeanine D, Magina S, Mahé E, Stratigos AJ. Mechanism of action and clinical benefits of colloidal oatmeal for dermatologic practice. J Drugs Dermatol. 2010 Sep;9(9):1116-20. 

      Diluvio L, Dattola A, Cannizzaro MV, Franceschini C, Bianchi L. Clinical and confocal evaluation of avenanthramides-based daily cleansing and emollient cream in pediatric population affected by atopic dermatitis and xerosis. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2019 Feb;154(1):32-36. 

      Fowler JF, Nebus J, Wallo W, Eichenfield LF. Colloidal oatmeal formulations as adjunct treatments in atopic dermatitis. J Drugs Dermatol. 2012;11:804-7.

      Ishikawa J, Yoshida H, Ito S, Naoe A, Fujimura T, Kitahara T, Takema Y, Zerweck C, Grove GL. Dry skin in the winter is related to the ceramide profile in the stratum corneum and can be improved by treatment with a Eucalyptus extract. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2013 Mar;12(1):3-11.

      Matheson JD, Clayton J, Muller MJ. The reduction of itch during burn wound healing. J Burn Care Rehabil. 2001;22:76-81.

      Paudel D, Dhungana B, Caffe M, Krishnan P. A Review of Health-Beneficial Properties of Oats. Foods. 2021 Oct 26;10(11):2591.

      Pazyar N, Yaghoobi R, Kazerouni A, Feily A. Oatmeal in dermatology: a brief review. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2012;78:142-5.

      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. 

      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 Mar 25;13:241-251.

      Yosipovitch G, Tur E, Morduchowicz G, Boner G. Skin surface pH, moisture, and pruritus in haemodialysis patients. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1993;8:1129-32.

      Yosipovitch G, Hundley JL. Practical guidelines for relief of itch. Dermatol Nurs. 2004;16:325-8.

      ← Older Post Newer Post →



      Leave a comment