Psoriasis causes skin cells to accumulate on the skin faster than normal. The result is dry, red, raised, and scaly patches on the skin. These may flake, itch, burn, and sting. The condition may be widespread or occur in a small area. Psoriasis is not contagious.
The cause of psoriasis is unknown. It may be an autoimmune condition in which your immune system is misdirected and attacks normal cells. There is no cure.
Up to 7.7 million people in the United States have psoriasis. Drug treatments are available, but they may cause negative side effects. As a result, some people turn to natural remedies such as apple cider vinegar (ACV) for relief.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), apple cider vinegar has been used since ancient times as a disinfectant. It may help ease itching on the scalp caused by psoriasis. However, it should be used with caution: Burning can occur as a side effect if the vinegar is not diluted.
Late 18th century doctors used it to treat other skin conditions such as poison ivy. It has also been associated with easing psoriasis symptoms such as itchy skin.
Like many natural remedies, evidence supporting the use of apple cider vinegar to treat psoriasis and other health conditions is mostly anecdotal. There is little scientific proof that it is consistently effective.
Risks and warnings
In most cases, it’s safe to use apple cider vinegar, but there are some risks.
Skin irritation and allergic reaction
Apple cider vinegar should not be applied to open wounds. It may also irritate your skin. An allergic reaction is possible with any natural product. Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, rash or hives, dizziness, and fast heartbeat.
Worsening of certain conditions
Apple cider vinegar is also used as a natural remedy to heal acid reflux. The acidity may worsen the condition in some people.
When you drink it, apple cider vinegar may erode tooth enamel. If you are on blood thinners, talk to your doctor before using. Drinking apple cider vinegar through a straw may reduce tooth erosion.
If you experience irritation or a persistent burning sensation on your skin, allergic reaction symptoms, or any other concerning symptoms, stop use immediately and consult your doctor.
Using apple cider vinegar
When using apple cider vinegar, choose organic, raw varieties. These are minimally processed and retain the highest levels of nutrients.
For scalp psoriasis
Apple cider vinegar is promoted as a natural anti-itch agent. NPF agrees that the liquid may help with scalp itch.
If you’d like to try using apple cider vinegar to treat scalp psoriasis, apply to your scalp several times a week. If it causes a burning sensation, try diluting the vinegar on a 1:1 ratio with water. If burning still occurs, do not use.
Some people bathe in diluted apple cider vinegar. To do this, add 1 cup to a warm bath. You can also apply to affected areas using a cotton ball, or dip your nail beds into the solution.
If you want to apply apple cider vinegar to a large area, make a solution from 1 part apple cider vinegar to 3 parts tepid water. Soak a washcloth in the solution and apply for at least one minute.
Other health benefits
Most other apple cider vinegar health benefits are not supported by research. These include:
- soothing a sore throat
- healing sunburn
- curing hiccups
- reducing acid reflux
- reducing leg cramps
- banishing bad breath
Scientific evidence does support some health benefits of ACV, although more research is needed.
Other treatment options
There are effective treatments for psoriasis supported by scientific evidence. Treatment depends on how severe the psoriasis is. Always speak with your doctor before starting a new treatment.
Topical treatments include steroid creams and ointments applied directly to the skin. These treatments are best if you have mild psoriasis.
Light therapy is also known as phototherapy. This treatment uses regular doses of natural or artificial light to help people with mild to moderate psoriasis. Phototherapy is done at your doctor’s office using a light booth, with a home ultraviolet lamp, or simply via natural sunlight.
People who don’t respond to topical treatments or light therapy may be prescribed systemic drugs. The drugs affect the whole body and are used to treat moderate to severe psoriasis.
These medications are made from a variety of human or animal proteins. They are given intravenously (IV) or by injection. Unlike systemic drugs, biologics are targeted to specific cells of the immune system. They’re used to treat moderate to severe psoriasis.
Otezla is a newer treatment for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It is an oral tablet. It may be used with topical treatments and light therapy to fight severe cases of the disease. It works by inhibiting the molecules within cells that cause inflammation.
If you think you have psoriasis, speak with your doctor or a dermatologist. No matter how much apple cider vinegar you use, there is no concrete proof that it helps the condition.
When it comes to psoriasis, what works for one person may not work for another. Some doctors support trying natural remedies along with conventional ones. Speak with your doctor to find the right treatment for you.