Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, can flare up at various times during your life. You may experience dry, red, itchy skin that is easily irritated. There’s no cure for eczema, so the goal of treatment is to ease uncomfortable symptoms.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a trending home remedy that’s being used to treat a variety of conditions, including infections, obesity, and diabetes. Many people with eczema experiment with natural home remedies like coconut oil, but apple cider vinegar may also be able to help.

Healthy skin is protected by an acidic barrier. If you have eczema, your skin pH levels are elevated, and this barrier doesn’t function properly. Without it, moisture escapes and irritants are allowed in. Apple cider vinegar is acidic, so applying it to the skin may help restore your skin’s natural pH balance.

Anything under a pH of 7.0 is acidic and anything above 7.0 is alkaline. Healthy skin has a natural pH level under 5.0. People with eczema typically have higher pH levels than people without.

Researchers believe that pH levels play a role in the breakdown of the skin’s protective barrier. Acidity levels are also related to a breakdown in the skin’s microbiota, which helps protect you from bad bacteria.

Studies show that washing the skin with soaps, shampoos, and other cosmetic products significantly raises the skin’s pH level. Even tap water can decrease skin’s acidity. This helps explain why eczema is often triggered by soaps.

As a mild acid, ACV may be able to help restore your skin’s natural pH level. ACV also has antimicrobial properties, which means it could be used instead of soap in some cases.

There are several options for using ACV to help treat your eczema. Here are some methods you can try:

ACV bath

Adding ACV to a warm bath may help restore your skin’s natural acidity. Add 2 cups of ACV to a warm (not hot) bath. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse with cool water. Follow with a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer.

ACV moisturizer

Making your own ACV moisturizer allows you to moisturize while restoring your skin’s pH balance. Returning acidity to the skin may help your skin retain that moisture longer.

Mix 1 tablespoon of ACV with 1/4 cup of virgin coconut oil. Studies show that coconut oil can reduce inflammation and soothe painful skin.

ACV facial toner

ACV has antibacterial properties that may allow it to kill staph bacteria on the skin, which reduces your chance of infection. As a toner, ACV works to clean the skin while reducing inflammation.

Apply ACV to a cotton round and wipe it around your face using a circular motion. Follow with a gentle moisturizer.

ACV hair oil

ACV has antifungal properties which may allow it to fight off a dandruff-causing fungus called Malassezia. Eczema and Malassezia are often coexisting.

Make a hair oil by mixing ACV with sunflower oil. Studies show that sunflower oil helps restore the skin’s protective barrier and improve moisture retention.

Add 1 tablespoon of ACV to 1/4 cup of sunflower oil. Apply liberally to your scalp immediately following a shower.

ACV wet wrap

For intense eczema flare-ups, you can add ACV to a wet wrap. You will need gauze, paper towel, or clean cotton fabric. Mix a solution with 1 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon ACV. Wet the fabric and apply it to severely irritated areas. Then cover the dressing in a dry fabric or plastic wrap.

Wear your wet wrap for at least three hours. You can also keep it on overnight. The dampness will add moisture to your skin while the ACV kills harmful bacteria.

There are few risks associated with apple cider vinegar. However, you should still speak to a doctor before using it to treat infants or small children.

With eczema, there’s always a risk that products will irritate the skin. Try starting with a small patch test of ACV and waiting a few days to be sure you don’t experience an adverse reaction. If ACV causes irritation, discontinue use.

Eczema is a chronic condition that can flare up unexpectedly throughout your life. Treating eczema often involves a multipronged approach. If your symptoms aren’t improving, make an appointment with a dermatologist. A doctor will be able to give you advice on other treatment options, such as prescription ointments. A combination of approaches may be the best choice for you.