How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Eczema
Eczema is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions that can cause the skin to become inflamed, red, or itchy. More than 31 million Americans have some type of eczema.
Common symptoms of eczema include itchy skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, and areas of swelling.
There is no cure for eczema, but there are treatments available to help manage symptoms. Treatments can include over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, prescription medications, or complementary or alternative therapies.
One alternative therapy is apple cider vinegar. Read more about how this treatment works, if it is effective, and how to use apple cider vinegar in the treatment of eczema.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Eczema
Roughly 50% of people living with eczema report using alternative or complementary treatments to help manage their condition.
Some people with eczema use apple cider vinegar to help with their symptoms.
Apple cider vinegar is a kind of fermented apple juice. Fermentation turns fruit sugars into alcohol, then bacteria turn the alcohol into acetic acid. This is why apple cider vinegar has a strong smell and sour taste.
Apple cider vinegar has been used as a home remedy since the days of ancient Greece, when it was used to disinfect wounds.
However, there is little scientific evidence proving the efficacy or health benefits of using apple cider vinegar.
It is possible apple cider vinegar may be helpful for eczema, in theory.
The Skin Barrier
The skin is protected by an acidic barrier, and researchers believe that in people with eczema, this acidic barrier doesn’t work properly. This is likely because people with eczema have elevated pH levels (potential hydrogen levels, a measure of acidity or alkalinity) in their skin. People with healthy skin have a natural skin pH level under 5.0. People with eczema have a higher pH level.
If the acidic skin barrier isn’t working properly, moisture can escape from the skin and irritants can enter the body. The skin acidity can also be influenced by the skin’s own microbiota, which help protect against bacteria. In people with eczema, there are higher levels of staph bacteria on the skin.
There are a number of factors that can alter the skin’s pH level, including:
- Washing the skin with soap
- Using certain cosmetics
- Using tap water
This is why eczema can be triggered by using soap or detergent or showering in an unfamiliar location the skin isn’t used to.
The reason apple cider vinegar could work for eczema, in theory, is because it is a form of mild acid. It’s possible it could help even out the skin’s pH level and return it to a natural level.
The Benefits and Risks of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been used as an alternative treatment for eczema for decades. This is because:
- The acid in apple cider vinegar may reduce both bacteria and yeast levels in the skin.
- It may help restore the skin’s natural pH level.
Anecdotally, members of the National Eczema Association have reported that apple cider vinegar baths are soothing to the skin and boost moisture levels in the skin.
However, apple cider vinegar has not been proven to be an effective treatment for eczema and may even carry some risks. A 2019 study found that a diluted apple cider vinegar bath not only didn’t improve the skin barrier in people with eczema, but it was also associated with skin irritation.
A 2021 study found that a daily bath in a 0.5% apple cider vinegar solution was not effective at altering the bacterial microbiome of the skin in people with eczema.
Apple cider vinegar also carries some risks if it is consumed. The high acidic content of apple cider vinegar can cause damage if used in large quantities, including damage to the mouth, throat, kidneys, and stomach. Apple cider vinegar may also be harmful to pregnant women if consumed in large quantities.
When to Seek Treatment
Eczema can cause uncomfortable or even painful symptoms. You should contact your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms, or if your symptoms get worse.
Before starting any new treatments or home remedies for eczema, including apple cider vinegar–based treatments, you should speak with your doctor.
A Word From Verywell
Eczema can cause itchy skin that might be inflamed or even painful. There is no cure for eczema, but a number of treatments are available. Apple cider vinegar is an alternative treatment used by some people with eczema to help their symptoms.
Some people report an improvement in their symptoms from apple cider vinegar, but there is no scientific evidence supporting its efficacy. If you are considering trying apple cider vinegar for eczema, you should speak with your healthcare provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use apple cider vinegar in the bath to treat eczema?
Maybe. Those living with eczema may find home remedies like baths helpful in treating their symptoms. Some people with eczema report that an apple cider vinegar bath helps improve their skin, but there is limited scientific evidence to support the efficacy of this treatment option in people with eczema.
How long does it take apple cider vinegar to treat your skin?
There are no scientific studies that have proven that apple cider vinegar is effective at treating skin in eczema.
Anecdotal evidence from some people with eczema suggests soaking in an apple cider vinegar bath for 15 minutes can help soothe and moisturize the skin.