Apple Cider Vinegar Baths: How And Why They Can Help Skin

At least once a month, you probably see a post in your newsfeeds touting the latest “benefit” of using apple cider vinegar. Lose incredible amounts of weight!  Ease the joint pain of arthritis! End the pain caused by autoimmune diseases! Cure your cancer!

Apple cider vinegar does indeed provide a surprising number of health benefits, and many more which haven’t been definitively proven but seem promising. On the other hand, there are some risks associated with the regular use of ACV. That’s why trying the latest apple cider vinegar miracle cure isn’t automatically a no-brainer; it’s best to think carefully before grabbing a bottle of ACV and swigging away.

Here’s an exception, though.

One of the uses for apple cider vinegar that’s as old as time – but has more recently gone viral – is using it in an ACV bath. Since you’re not drinking the vinegar there are no real risks (unless you have very sensitive skin), and the apparent health benefits are numerous.

Ready to try an apple cider vinegar bath?

Medical Evidence Supporting ACV Baths

Most people have heard about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, at least in general terms.

It’s been shown to help type 2 diabetics and prediabetics regulate their blood glucose levels. (1) Preliminary research shows it may help reverse common causes of heart disease like high cholesterol (2) and high blood pressure (3). And small studies point to the possibility that ACV could help with weight loss, too. (4)

The benefits we’re more concerned with here involve apple cider vinegar’s powerful antibacterial properties, as well as its anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. (5) After all, many common skin inflammations are caused by bacteria and fungi – so what better way to treat them than to add a strong antimicrobial agent like ACV to your next bath?

There’s one other factor to consider: pH levels. Healthy skin is slightly acidic (with a pH below 7), but common skin cleansers and scrubs are alkaline (with pH levels above 7). When you use regular soaps, moisturizers, toners and other skin care products each day, your skin’s pH increases to abnormally-high levels.

Apple cider vinegar is naturally acidic, since its key active ingredient is acetic acid, so applying it to the skin can restore the skin’s pH balance and protective barrier. There are two important benefits to that; the skin barrier is better able to block irritants and infections, and dry skin becomes less of a problem.

This isn’t just wishful thinking. Apple cider vinegar has already been shown to be effective against a number of common skin conditions.

Apple Cider Vinegar and the Skin

Studies and anecdotal evidence have shown that ACV works, and works well, to treat many skin problems that plague vast numbers of patients.

Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis

Medical experts specializing in dermatology say that eczema (in its most common form, atopic dermatitis) affects as many as 30 million Americans. It manifests as painful, inflamed and itchy skin, and often doesn’t go away. Apple cider vinegar’s anti-inflammatory properties would seem to make it a perfect non-prescription treatment, and in one preliminary animal study, regular application of ACV dramatically reduced atopic dermatitis lesions and their symptoms. (6)

Another reason why vinegar is effective against eczema is its ability to lower the skin’s pH levels, since research has shown that the skin of eczema sufferers usually has a higher-than-optimal pH. Restoring the pH balance with ACV also restores the skin barrier that protects against irritants.

Yeast Infections

Skin infections, you say? This sounds like a job for apple cider vinegar!

Research shows that ACV is indeed a good choice. Pesky and painful yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are caused by harmful bacteria and fungi overcoming the body’s supply of beneficial organisms, and then proliferating in the genital area. The culprit is often Candida albicans, and even in very small amounts, apple cider vinegar is particularly effective against Candida and the fungal infections it triggers.

ACV hasn’t been proven in these cases yet, but overgrowth of the fungus known as Malassezia is believed to be one cause of dandruff, and the fungus Tinea causes athlete’s foot. The anti-fungal properties of ACV would make it seem to be a promising treatment for both issues.

Treating Wounds

Throughout history, apple cider vinegar has been one of the most popular home remedies for wounds, cuts and bruises. A few research studies show that ACV can be as effective as antibiotics in some of these cases (7), so any cuts or scrapes you may have suffered in everyday life may benefit from a nice, warm, apple cider vinegar soak. Some also claim that the vinegar, when diluted, can help ease the pain of sunburn. That hasn’t been scientifically proven, but as long as the ACV has been diluted sufficiently, it could be worth a try.

Body Odor

Most people don’t think about the cause of body odor. They just slap on some deodorant and go about their day. But the annoying odor isn’t the smell of perspiration; it’s the odor caused when sweat mixes with the body’s natural bacteria. As an anti-bacterial agent, apple cider vinegar can temporarily ease the extent of the interaction, and leave you smelling better when you get out of your ACV bath.

Some also use apple cider vinegar to treat warts, pimples and acne, but there is no research yet to prove its effectiveness.

How to Take an Apple Cider Vinegar Bath

It couldn’t be easier to prepare an apple cider vinegar bath.

Two warnings, though: first, don’t be tempted to use more ACV than suggested, since the vinegar is extremely acidic and can cause skin burns if not diluted properly. Second, use raw apple cider vinegar (Bragg ACV is the best-known brand), since it contains still the “mother” which provides some of vinegar’s medicinal benefits.

To take an ACV bath, all you have to do is fill your tub with warm water, and then thoroughly mix two cups of apple cider vinegar into the bath water. Soak for about half-an-hour, rinse off, and you’re done.

There’s no harm in adding essential oils to the bath water for a more relaxing experience, or making it a more complete skin detox by adding Epsom salt, Himalayan salt, and/or baking soda. The key ingredient, though, is the two cups of ACV.

The effects of apple cider vinegar baths haven’t been scientifically researched, but the number of people who swear by them make ACV baths a no-risk approach to maintaining or improving skin health.