Why Oatmeal Helps a Dog’s Itchy Skin
by Fiona Young-Brown
You may have products containing oatmeal in your own bathroom cabinet, but did you know that oatmeal is also great for your dog’s skin? When my Husky Sam began to develop a case of puppy acne, the first thing the vet recommended was an oatmeal shampoo . Regular use helped to ease the irritation and lessen the redness, and now oatmeal products remain a regular part of our doggy beauty regimen.
Oatmeal isn’t just good for our insides – those same factors that make it so nutritious also make it good for our skin. The starches, mainly cellulose and fiber, are what help it to hold moisture once it is mixed with a liquid. Meanwhile, the vitamin E acts as an anti-inflammatory, and the phenols have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Throw in a few other antioxidant and cleansing components, and oatmeal is truly a skincare powerhouse.
Oatmeal has long been used in baths and skincare treatments; historians have found that the Romans and Egyptians used it as a cleanser and skin protector. Yet only recently has its effectiveness in protecting skin and soothing irritation been clinically proven. In 1978, the Food and Drug Administration approved colloidal oatmeal as a natural skin protector, and today it can be found in a wide variety of human skincare products.
One of the few all-natural ingredients to be approved by the FDA, colloidal oatmeal helps with a variety of skincare problems. One of its best known uses is to relieve itching . Patients with eczema and dermatitis have found it particularly soothing, and it can also help our furry friends when they are suffering from itchy bites or when they’ve been running around in poison ivy. Not only does oatmeal help to soothe the irritation, it can also help to actually heal the skin and protect it during the healing process. Since my other dog Lizzie suffers from seasonal allergies which affect her skin, a good oatmeal conditioner stops her from scratching all season long.
So what is colloidal oatmeal anyway? Basically, it is oatmeal that has been converted into a very fine powder, usually with the intent of then adding it to a liquid, perhaps a moisturizer, a shampoo, or even bath water. It can be made at home with a good quality coffee grinder or mill. Before you grab your box of breakfast oatmeal, however, it is important to understand that the instant stuff won’t do. If you are going to try making your own, you will need to use old-fashioned style, organic oatmeal, the type that requires a long cooking time. Simply add the dry oatmeal to the blender and grind to a fine powder. Because the powder granules are so tiny, the oatmeal becomes a colloid. In other words, it will readily absorb water or moisture. This then acts as a ready made moisturizer, binding itself to the skin in a protective layer.
You can use colloidal oatmeal in a variety of ways. One of the easiest is to add the powdered oatmeal to lukewarm bath water and use it as a soak. If your pet (like mine) is not the water lounging type, you can also find a number of shampoos and conditioners that will help soothe their skin and add a little shine to their coat at the same time (an added bonus of the Vitamin E). Try Fur Butter , a rich conditioner containing colloidal oatmeal and shea butter.
With regular use, products containing oatmeal can make a dramatic difference to both your and your dog’s skin. It will feel less dry, less irritated and smoother, making you and your pooch the perfectly beautiful natural couple.