Some people use apple cider vinegar to improve the symptoms of eczema. However, it can irritate the skin and may not be suitable for everyone.

Eczema refers to a range of conditions that include atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis. It can result in dry, cracked, and itchy patches of skin. Home remedies, moisturizers, and medications may help manage the symptoms.

Apple cider vinegar is a home remedy that some say helps. In Korea, people have long used it to treat various skin complaints, including eczema.

The vinegar comes from fermented apple cider. Some believe it can heal eczema by rebalancing the skin’s acidity levels and reducing the risk of infection.

In this article, we look at the scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar can help heal eczema. We also describe how to use it and examine the risks.

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No high quality research thus far validates that the vinegar can improve eczema symptoms. However, there are a few reasons why it could help.

According to a testimony on the National Eczema Association, adding 2 cups of apple cider vinegar to a warm bath can help moisturize and soothe the skin.

If apple cider vinegar is beneficial for the skin, it may be for the following reasons:

Balancing the skin’s acidity levels

Acidic substances may improve symptoms of skin conditions, including eczema, by helping restore the skin’s acidity level. The skin is naturally acidic, which helps it protect against bacterial infection.

Meanwhile, the authors of a study from 2017 concluded that highly alkaline, or basic, soaps and cleansers can irritate the skin and aggravate eczema.

Managing inflammation and infection

Apple cider vinegar may reduce inflammation and infection, according to some laboratory research from 2018.

This suggests that applying it to the skin could reduce eczema-related swelling and help prevent broken skin from becoming infected.

The authors of a 2019 study concluded that adding 3–4 cups of apply cider vinegar to half a bath of water, or around 20 gallons, might help prevent irritation and inflammation due to chemicals in tap water. The pH level of the bath was around 4.5 and that the water was moderately warm.

The authors recommended this practice for children with contact dermatitis, a type of allergic eczema. However, the findings were based mostly on anecdotal evidence.

Improves the health of the skin’s barrier

A 2016 mouse study found that applying a vinegar-based cream improved the skin’s health as a barrier and helped maintain the pH of the skin and stop eczema lesions from forming.

However, researchers have yet to confirm these findings in humans.

Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, and applying it to the skin may cause irritation.

In a small 2021 study, researchers looked at the effects of apple cider vinegar diluted with water at 0.5%. The study included 22 people, 11 with atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema, and 11 without. They bathed one arm in the solution and one arm in water for 10 minutes per day for 14 days.

Arms soaked in the vinegar solution decreased in pH levels immediately after soaking but returned to previous levels within 60 minutes.

The scientists found no evidence that the solution improved the microbiome or integrity of the skin barrier. However, 16 of the 22 participants noted mild side effects that improved when they stopped the treatment.

Anyone who is interested in using apple cider vinegar for eczema may want to consider:

  • checking first with a doctor
  • using small, diluted amounts of vinegar
  • monitoring the skin carefully for any reactions
  • stopping the use of vinegar if a burning sensation or irritation occurs

What are the side effects of apple cider vinegar, and how can people use it safely?

People use apple cider vinegar topically to treat eczema in many ways. For example, by:

  • Adding it to a warm bath: Mix 2 cups of apple cider vinegar with a warm bath, soak for 15 minutes, and rinse the body in cool water.
  • Using it in a wet body wrap: Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of warm water. Dip some clean cotton fabric, gauze, or paper towel in the mixture. Apply it to the area affected by eczema for 3 hours or overnight.
  • Applying it as a hair mask: Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup of sunflower oil. Apply it to the scalp right after a shower. The vinegar may act as a protective barrier for the skin and improve its moisture retention.

Does apple cider vinegar help promote hair growth?

No guidelines or research suggests that apple cider vinegar is safe for infants or babies. One 2015 case report showed vinegar causing burns when applied to the skin. Vinegar may damage an infant’s sensitive skin.

Speak with a doctor before using apple cider vinegar to treat a baby’s symptoms.

Other natural remedies that may help relieve eczema symptoms include:

  • applyingcoconut oil, which has anti-inflammatory moisturizing properties
  • taking Lactobacillus probiotics or vitamin D supplements
  • placing cool compresses or wet wraps on the skin
  • adding colloidal oatmeal to a lukewarm bath and soaking for 15 minutes
  • following an eczema-friendly diet

What are some more natural remedies for eczema?

Here are some questions people often ask about using apple cider vinegar for eczema.

Will apple cider vinegar help with eczema?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that apple cider vinegar diluted with water can help keep the skin moisturized and prevent inflammation, but there is not enough scientific evidence to confirm this. It may also irritate the skin.

Can I put apple cider vinegar on my itchy skin?

Apple cider vinegar may help reduce itching by lowering inflammation and increasing moisture in the skin, but scientists have not yet confirmed that this is the case. Vinegar can also irritate the skin and it may burn. Speak with a doctor before using it, dilute the vinegar, and do a patch test first.

What gets rid of eczema fast?

Ways of managing eczema symptoms include:

  • moisturizing regularly with mild, unscented products
  • avoiding scratching or rubbing the skin
  • bathing in lukewarm water
  • applying a cool compress to relieve itching

A doctor may also recommend creams or medications that can help.

Apple cider vinegar may reduce eczema symptoms by restoring the skin’s acidity levels. Some people report that adding the vinegar to baths helps reduce dryness.

However, it can also cause burns and irritation and may not be suitable for all types of eczema. There is not enough scientific evidence to show it is safe or effective.

Always talk with a doctor before using natural remedies, including apple cider vinegar. It is advisable that people also discontinue use immediately if the skin become more inflamed or irritated.