Apple Cider Vinegar has seen a surge of popularity in the natural health community in recent years due to many health benefits. While Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has demonstrated remarkable effects in improving weight loss, reducing cholesterol, lowering blood sugar and improving levels of insulin for people with type 2 diabetes, the results of the effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on skin care are currently inconclusive. Yet there are popular claims that ACV can alleviate symptoms associated with Atopic Dermatitis, commonly known as eczema, and various other skin care troubles.
Here’s what you should know before using Apple Cider Vinegar to treat Atopic Dermatitis and other related skin conditions.
Atopic Dermatitis (AD), or eczema, occurs due to genetic factors. It is an exaggerated immune response that causes inflammation of the skin leaving it red, rashy and itchy.
It is common in children but can be typical at any age. It is generally a chronic condition but tends to lessen or intensify dependent on various triggers (known as “flare-ups”). Flare-ups might be triggered by allergies such as hay fever or diet; where certain foods increase the susceptibility to bouts of eczema, especially in children.
Symptoms and issues relating to Atopic Dermatitis include:
- Itchy and scaly skin. If left untreated, skin can become leathery.
- Increased likelihood of infections such as the herpes simplex virus, bacteria, and viral infections.
- Irritant hand dermatitis. This dermatitis occurs when you have to wash your hands frequently with disinfectants and harsh soaps.
- Insomnia and discomfort due to having itchy skin.
Can Apple Cider Vinegar be used to treat your Atopic Dermatitis?
While Apple Cider Vinegar might possibly be a great supplement for immune and digestive health, it’s important to think twice before using it to treat your Atopic Dermatitis.
According to one study from the University of Virginia, using Apple Cider Vinegar to treat Atopic Dermatitis (AD) did not show any benefit on the skin condition. The study’s aim was to evaluate the way vinegar worked to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and the pH of the skin of individuals with AD compared to individuals with no known skin conditions. This study determined that performing vinegar soaks had little long-term improvement on skin condition and for a majority of participants, led to exacerbated skin irritation.
Can Apple Cider Vinegar be used to treat other skin conditions?
There are other various claims that Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) can work as a universal treatment for an array of skin conditions. What are these claims and do they hold any truth?
Claim 1: Apple Cider Vinegar is an Effective Exfoliator
It’s been claimed that ACV can be used as an exfoliant that absorbs excess oils, and unblock pores. It’s acidic composition has the power to restore healthy pH levels to our skin and keep the skin’s “acid mantle,” the outer layer of our skin, healthy and glowing.
False: Unfortunately Apple Cider Vinegar does not exfoliate the skin as the acid content and malic content is too low. While ACV can temporarily remove oils, it does not “absorb” them and has not been shown to affect skin pH. In fact, the “acid mantle” is outdated terminology that was based on the incorrect assumption that the skin pH was 5.5, however this information has been proven false.
Claim 2: Apple Cider Vinegar Reduces Acne
Odacité Skincare, among others, have claimed that Apple Cider Vinegar helps prevent acne by fighting acne-causing bacteria and therefore can reduce acne, pimples and even scars.
False: Though supported by some prominent beauty companies, there is no medical evidence to show that Apple Cider Vinegar has any effect on acne-causing bacteria, pimples or scars. Conversely, there is indeed evidence that vinegar based foods can actually cause acne.
Claim 3: Apple Cider Vinegar can Treat Sunburn
ACV can soothe and treat sunburn by restoring your skin’s pH levels and neutralizing the burn.
False: Unfortunately there is no evidence that Apple Cider Vinegar is effective or recommended for sunburn.
Claim 4: Apple Cider Vinegar has Anti-Aging Properties
It’s claimed that Hippocrates, often renowned as the Father of Medicine, used Apple Cider Vinegar as a healing elixir. Even by the turn of the century, ACV was used as a “healing tonic” to preserve youth. Apples contain vital chemical compounds that exhibit excellent anti-aging properties.
False: While the history of Apple Cider Vinegar sounds impressive, unfortunately there is no scientific evidence or physiological reasoning to show that ACV demonstrates any anti-aging properties.
Claim 5: Apple Cider Vinegar Heals Poison Ivy
ACV has a “toxin-pulling ability” that can suck the poison out of your skin pores and therefore heal areas infected by poison ivy dermatitis.
False: Unfortunately there is no evidence that Apple CIder Vinegar has any effect on poison ivy or other forms of contact dermatitis.
Claim 6: Apple Cider Vinegar Cures Warts
Apple Cider Vinegar contains acetic acid which is a gentle treatment for warts. Used as an overnight treatment, ACV can show results of reducing warts.
False: If this claim sounds too simple to be true, that’s because it is! While Acetic acid can be used as a method to identify genital warts, it is certainly not a treatment. Unfortunately there is currently no known cure for warts.
But what if Apple Cider Vinegar seems to be working for you?
If Apple Cider Vinegar works for you, then by all means continue to use it prudently. It’s very possible that any effectiveness as a result of ACV treatment, is due to a placebo effect and indeed, using this product is inexpensive and readily accessible. However, it’s important to stay up to date on medical research for any products you choose to use, and it is not recommended to delay a diagnosis or treatment if symptoms worsen or persist.
How to Effectively Treat Atopic Dermatitis and other Skin Conditions
Here are a few basic steps that can be effective for Atopic Dermatitis and other irritative skin conditions. These steps include:
- Moisturize twice a day using dermatologist-approved products. Moisturizers seal in the body’s natural moisture and can provide a cooling effect for irritable skin.
- Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a healthful fatty acid that is also in breast milk. Lauric acid is an ingredient in many natural remedies. While coconut oil cannot cure eczema, it can offer relief by soothing the skin.
- Identify the triggers for your skin problems. Common triggers include sweat, allergic reactions and stress. These can set off an outbreak for individuals with AD or intensify an existing rash, irritation or inflammation.
- Check your diet. Obesity and unhealthy eating can make individuals more prone to AD and other skin conditions. But even if a poor diet isn’t the problem, an unknown food allergy might be at play. Common food allergies include peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, gluten or soy.
- Stay clean and take short, regular showers or baths with warm water.
- Dry completely after a bath or shower, patting skin gently in irritation-prone areas. Warm, wet skin can be an ideal breeding ground for bacteria so be sure to tackle those nooks and crannies.
- Use gentle soaps and unscented products to preserve the skin’s moisture and keep the rashes at bay.
- Book regular appointments with your dermatologist. Visit Adult and Pediatric Dermatology, where we can talk you through your skin problems and help you control and treat your condition for the long term.
While some at-home remedies are effective, we are happy to answer your questions and help you find effective skin relief and manage your eczema.
At Adult and Pediatric Dermatology, Dr. Kaplan and his team of experts can help you identify, treat and manage your skin condition effectively. AD and other similar conditions can be uncomfortable, painful and alienating for you or your family affected, so leave the guess-work behind and let us help you tackle your skin conditions head-on.
4 WONDER INGREDIENTS YOU NEED THIS SPRING. (Odacite Skincare.). Retrieved from https://odacite.com/blogs/tohealthandbeauty/4-wonder-ingredients-you-need-this-spring.
Hautarzt. (1975) Appearance of acne vulgaris following vinegar-containing foods May ; 26(5):276.
Luu, L., Flowers, R., Kellams, A., Zeichner, S., Preston, D., Zlotoff, B., & Wisniewski, J. (2019). Apple cider vinegar soaks [0.5%] as a treatment for atopic dermatitis do not improve skin barrier integrity. Pediatric Dermatology, 36(5), 634-639.