Thanks to the HBO crime drama mini-series The Night Of, in which one of the main characters is shown suffering from eczema, this disease has found a permanent place in the American psyche. The makers say they used eczema—which refers to a constellation of conditions that result in dry, itchy, and scaly skin—as a metaphor for the character’s frustration at being unable to find a way through the country’s judicial system. Eczema is, however, not a rare condition in the country, given that an estimated 30 million Americans are known to suffer from it.1
It is not an easy condition to live with. It often manifests itself in the form of patches of scaly skin and results in itching that, say patients, can even keep you up all night. Experts have not yet reached a consensus on what causes eczema, with some claiming that it is a genetic condition, while some others attribute it to environmental factors.
Anecdotes Claim That ACV Is Beneficial For Skin Conditions
Apple cider vinegar, made from fermenting the sugars of apples, is one of the most commonly used vinegars. From preventing cancer to weight loss and keeping diabetes in check, ACV has been associated with many medicinal effects.
There are many ways in which apple cider vinegar is used to ease itching and scaly skin. While some apply diluted apple cider vinegar to the dry and affected area, some others drink it after adding a bit of honey or even as tea. Vinegar baths are also commonly practiced to reduce itchiness and dryness of skin, and sometimes a mixture of apple cider vinegar and baking soda is orally administered as well to fight the condition.
There is, however, no scientific proof that directly links the use of ACV to easing eczema, but there are anecdotal evidences that prove ACV is an often-used alternative remedy for the condition.
Science Does Not Support ACV’s Use As A Cure For Eczema
A review of the literature on the benefits of vinegar in the Journal Of Food Science confirms that the therapeutic effects of vinegar arise from the inherent bioactive components like acetic acid, gallic acid, and catechin, that lend it antioxidative, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antitumor, antiobesity, antihypertensive, and cholesterol-lowering properties.2
Although a few studies link apple cider vinegar to decreased levels of cholesterol3 and to effective management of diabetes4, no proof has been found for the claim that it eases skin irritations and is beneficial for treating or managing eczema.
Anecdotal evidences point to the healing properties of ACV, which are largely attributed to the high levels of nutrients such as pectin, beta-carotene, sodium, potassium, and other digestive enzymes present in it. At least some users of ACV believe it is the presence of beta-carotene that helps ease eczema and its symptoms, thanks to its ability to regenerate skin cells, destroy free radicals, and slow down aging.
But here’s the bummer. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Database, apple cider vinegar contains no measurable vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, beta-carotene, or folate—and it’s equally lacking in amino acids, lycopene, or any other nutritional elements.5
There are studies that prove that ACV has anti-fungal properties6, but researchers themselves recommend its use only for denture stomatitis, which is a common condition in which the mucous membrane beneath the denture shows redness and inflammation.
Is ACV Really Beneficial For Eczema?
We just can’t say for sure.
Although apple cider vinegar has a few proven health benefits, there is no conclusive scientific backing for the claims that it is beneficial for reducing and managing the symptoms of eczema. While it is relatively harmless to be consumed in small quantities, take care not to overdo it as it may prove to be counterproductive.
Your Doubts Answered
1. Are Vinegar Baths Useful To Treat Irritated And Itchy Skin?
[expert_opinion expertname=’lauradankof’ opinion=”According to the Gerson Institute, vinegar baths can help with itchy skin. I would recommend using only organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) with the Mother. You can put one to two capfuls of the ACV into your bath water. ACV is reported to have many health benefits. It has been used to aid digestion, and for fungal, and bacterial infections.”]
|↑1||Hanifin, Jon M., Michael L. Reed, and Impact Working Group. “A Population‐Based Survey of Eczema Prevalence in the United States.” Dermatitis 18, no. 2 (2007): 82-91.|
|↑2||Budak, Nilgün H., Elif Aykin, Atif C. Seydim, Annel K. Greene, and Zeynep B. Guzel‐Seydim. “Functional properties of vinegar.” Journal of food science 79, no. 5 (2014): R757-R764.|
|↑3||Mitrou, P., E. Petsiou, E. Papakonstantinou, E. Maratou, V. Lambadiari, P. Dimitriadis, F. Spanoudi, S. A. Raptis, and G. Dimitriadis. “The role of acetic acid on glucose uptake and blood flow rates in the skeletal muscle in humans with impaired glucose tolerance.” European journal of clinical nutrition 69, no. 6 (2015): 734-739.|
|↑4||Mitrou, Panayota, Eleni Petsiou, Emilia Papakonstantinou, Eirini Maratou, Vaia Lambadiari, Panayiotis Dimitriadis, Filio Spanoudi, Sotirios A. Raptis, and George Dimitriadis. “Vinegar consumption increases insulin-stimulated glucose uptake by the forearm muscle in humans with type 2 diabetes.” Journal of diabetes research 2015 (2015).|
|↑5||Basic Report: 02048, Vinegar, cider. United States Department of Agriculture & Agricultural Research Service. Revised May, 2016.|
|↑6||Mota, Ana Carolina Loureiro Gama, Ricardo Dias Castro, Julyana Araújo Oliveira, and Edeltrudes Oliveira Lima. “Antifungal activity of apple cider vinegar on Candida species involved in denture stomatitis.” Journal of Prosthodontics 24, no. 4 (2015): 296-302.|