Raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) may have a variety of important health benefits. It’s often touted as a natural cure-all. You may have heard about using it for weight loss, infections, diabetes, and more.
ACV may also help with a variety of common skin problems, and adding it to your bath can amp up your skin care routine. It has powerful antimicrobial properties that may help ease skin infections and soothe irritation.
As a mild acid, ACV may also help restore the natural pH balance of your skin. This helps your skin keep moisture in and irritants out.
Read on to learn what the research says about using ACV for certain conditions and how an ACV bath may bring you relief.
What conditions may benefit from an ACV bath?
For thousands of years, people around the world have used vinegar for medicinal purposes. Today, scientists have only just begun investigating the possible uses of ACV for the treatment of skin conditions such as:
A 2018 research study found that ACV can be used to effectively treat infections caused by several common strains of bacteria. However, more research is needed before doctors can recommend ACV treatments to their patients.
Yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis
Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are caused by an overgrowth of fungus or bacteria in the vagina. These infections happen when the normal, healthy bacteria get overrun by bad bacteria, such as the yeast Candida.
A 2018 study conducted outside the human body found that ACV inhibits the growth of several types of bacteria and Candida. This study found that ACV was most effective against yeast when mixed 1:1 with water.
Against Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli, ACV worked even when diluted by ratios of 1:25 or 1:50, respectively. This suggests that when added to a partially filled bathtub, ACV may help fight certain infections. However, research directly related to the human body is lacking.
Despite internet rumors, there’s no evidence to suggest that apple cider vinegar can help soothe a sunburn. It may even cause irritation.
Instead of ACV, consider adding a few bags of green tea to a cool bath. Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe and heal damaged skin.
Body odor occurs when sweat mixes with the healthy bacteria on your skin. ACV may effectively kill several types of bacteria found on your body, though scientific results of this have only been conducted outside the human body.
Although unproven, taking an ACV bath could help naturally clear away some of these bacteria, at least temporarily. It’s a good natural alternative to deodorants, which also typically contain antibacterial agents.
Healthy skin is protected by a naturally acidic barrier. When this barrier becomes less acidic, it doesn’t work properly. This allows moisture to escape, causing skin to dry out. The barrier is also responsible for protecting your skin from irritants. Without it, skin is easily inflamed.
Studies show that people with eczema have higher skin pH, which means that their protective barrier isn’t as acidic as it should be. ACV is a mild acid. When applied topically, it could potentially help restore your skin’s protective barrier.
While some people with eczema report improved symptoms following an ACV bath, more research is needed to confirm its benefits.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when there’s an overgrowth of bacteria somewhere along the urinary tract. Although it’s never been tested in humans, ACV may help defeat some bacterial infections, researchers believe.
It’s important to understand, however, that UTIs are typically located in the bladder or the urethra. When you take a bath, water doesn’t enter your urethra, so drinking ACV may be better than bathing in it.
Also, UTIs that spread can cause serious complications. While you may want to try ACV as a complementary therapy, talk to you doctor if you suspect you have a UTI.
Dandruff is caused by several different things. One possible cause is a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia. Although most people have Malassezia on their scalp, it can cause dandruff in some people.
There’s no research to support the use of ACV for dandruff, but it does have antifungal properties. It could potentially help kill off this dandruff-causing fungus. Dipping your scalp in an ACV bath might offer some dandruff relief. If that doesn’t work, here are some other home remedies to get rid of dandruff naturally.
You skin has a naturally acidic barrier. Research has found that the more acidic skin is, the healthier it is. This is because the protective layer helps the skin retain moisture.
Unfortunately, skin becomes less acidic when washed with soap and water. Using ACV instead of soap or soaking in an ACV bath may help skin retain its natural acidity. This may prevent dryness and damage.
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungal infection. Vinegar has long been used as a natural treatment for nail fungus.
Today, research shows that apple cider vinegar has some antifungal properties. Unfortunately, ACV has not yet been tested on tinea, the type of bacteria that causes athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm. Try these other natural home remedies to relieve your symptoms.
Many different conditions can cause joint pain. The pain itself is typically caused by inflammation around the joints. If you have joint pain, you may have treated it at home with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve).
In a recent study, researchers found that vinegar is an effective anti-inflammatory in mice. This means that it could potentially work as an anti-inflammatory in humans. However, in this study, the mice ingested vinegar rather than bathed in it.
Pimples and warts
Many people use ACV as a spot treatment for skin problems like pimples and warts. Applying ACV directly to a pimple may help clear away pore-clogging bacteria. Applying it to warts may help burn them away.
Bathing in ACV may help prevent pimples and warts from forming in the first place by clearing away bacteria and viruses. These treatments may work for some people, but they haven’t been scientifically proven. Learn more about apple cider vinegar for wart removal.
What’s the best way to draw an ACV bath?
To prepare an apple cider vinegar bath:
- Fill a tub with warm (not hot) water.
- Add 2 cups of raw apple cider vinegar.
- Stir the water.
- Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Turn on the shower and rinse with or without soap.
There’s been a lot of hype about apple cider vinegar — some of it warranted and some of it not. ACV is pretty harmless, so feel free to give it a try, but don’t expect it to be a magic cure for everything.
Some of the conditions listed above have other, more effective home remedies that you can try. Speak with your doctor about your treatment options if trying at-home remedies doesn’t work for you.