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Over-the-counter 1% colloidal oatmeal cream effectively treats mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis in Black children, according to a recent study.

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is one of the most common skin conditions among children in the United States. Its prevalence varies with race and ethnicity, with Black children being 1.7 times more likely to develop AD than White children. Colloidal oatmeal is the only FDA-approved over-the-counter skin protectant indicated for eczema treatment; however, there is a lack of research on its use in Black children. 

A study in The Journal of Dermatological Treatment assessed the effectiveness and safety of 1% colloidal oatmeal cream in a cohort of Black children with mild-to-moderate AD.

Population Characteristics

In this post hoc analysis of a randomized, double-blind trial, 49 Black patients received either colloidal oatmeal cream (n=25) or prescription ceramide-containing barrier cream (n=24). The mean age was 7.7 years, and 49% were male. AD severity was moderate in most patients.

Efficacy of Colloidal Oatmeal Cream

In Black patients, the mean change from baseline in Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) scores was −2.4 in the colloidal oatmeal cream and −2.1 in the prescription barrier cream groups at week 3. The improvement in EASI scores was similar for both groups at all time points, starting as early as week 1. 

A similar improvement in Investigator’s Global Atopic Dermatitis Assessment (IGADA) scores from baseline was also noted at all time points in both groups, with the mean change from baseline of −0.6 for colloidal oatmeal cream and −0.7 for prescription barrier cream at week 3.

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Significant Improvement in Eczema Symptoms for Black Patients

A progressive, rapid improvement in the subjective ratings of eczema signs and symptoms was observed at each time point for both groups of Black patients; the baseline to week 1 percentage change for colloidal oatmeal cream and prescription barrier cream, respectively, was as follows: itch (43.1%, 33.3%), dryness/flakiness (54.8%, 80.3%), skin appearance (18.0%, 34.9%), moisturization (59.6%, 55.2%), redness (26.0%, 21.7%), and sleep quality (19.9%, 8.9%).

Patients and Caregivers Reported Higher Satisfaction With the Oatmeal Cream

In the oatmeal cream group, 100% and 88% indicated that the cream was appropriate for children and the whole family, respectively, and 88% indicated they would use it daily rather than occasionally. A notable difference was the higher proportion favoring the colloidal oatmeal cream over prescription barrier cream for use on the entire body (96% vs. 75%). Other assessment results were similar in the prescription cream group.

Low Adverse Event Rate in Black Patients

The proportion of Black patients reporting adverse events (AEs) was very low. The nature and severity of AEs were similar for both groups. No serious AEs were reported.


Lisante, T. A., Kizoulis, M., Nuñez, C. E. C., & Hartman, C. L. (2023). A 1% colloidal oatmeal OTC cream is clinically effective for the management of mild to moderate atopic dermatitis in Black or African American children. Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 34(1). https://doi.org/10.1080/09546634.2023.2241587