Shingles, which is a rash caused by the chickenpox virus, can be extremely painful and uncomfortable.

If you have shingles, you may be tempted to try home remedies for pain relief.

One such home remedy for shingles pain involves putting apple cider vinegar (ACV) on your rash.

This article reviews the use of ACV for shingles, whether it’s effective, any potential risks involved, as well as some safer alternatives.

Using apple cider vinegar for shingles

Several home remedy recipes online for relieving shingles pain using ACV can be found online.

Some popular options include applying ACV directly to the shingles rash, usually in combination with other ingredients like honey, or taking a bath that contains a small amount of ACV in the bathwater.

Reportedly, ACV can help relieve some of the painful stinging and itching of the shingles rash, as well as potentially help cleanse the rash and kill Herpes zoster, the virus that causes it.

Although some evidence suggests that ACV is antiviral, there’s no proof that it can help kill Herpes zoster by applying it to your skin (1).

Additionally, there’s no scientific evidence that ACV applied topically helps relieve pain or itching. However, this doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you.


ACV is sometimes used as a home remedy for pain caused by the shingles rash. Although it may work for some people, there’s no scientific evidence to support its use.

Potential risks

There are some risks to using ACV, which mostly stem from improperly diluting it before applying it to your skin.

ACV is very acidic, and applying it undiluted to your skin can lead to burns, which could potentially increase your discomfort and put you at risk of developing a bacterial skin infection along with the rash (2).

For your safety, you should only apply ACV directly to your shingles rash if it’s heavily diluted. A safe dilution would be 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) of ACV per 1 cup (237 mL) of water, or 1/2–1 cup (119–237 mL) of ACV in your bathwater.


ACV can cause burns when applied directly to your skin, especially if it’s undiluted. This can cause your rash to worsen and may increase your risk of getting a bacterial infection as well.

Safe alternatives

The most important component of shingles treatment is to work closely with your healthcare provider. They may provide a topical pain cream that will help you manage the pain and discomfort associated with the shingles rash (3).

Some other ways to manage shingles pain include using a cool compress or taking a lukewarm oatmeal bath. You can also use calamine lotion, which is an over-the-counter lotion specifically formulated to reduce itching (3).

There’s no strong evidence to support the use of other home remedies for shingles pain, including ACV.


Your healthcare provider may prescribe you a topical pain cream to help ease the discomfort associated with shingles. You can also take lukewarm oatmeal baths, use a cool compress, or use calamine lotion.

The bottom line

Apple cider vinegar is a home remedy for shingles pain that’s often recommended online. Although ACV has some antiviral properties, there’s no evidence to suggest that it can help relieve the pain or itching associated with the shingles rash.

You should not apply undiluted ACV directly to your shingles rash or your skin, as it can cause burns.

In addition to working closely with your healthcare provider, your best options for managing shingles pain include taking oatmeal baths and applying cool compresses and calamine lotion.

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar