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Apple Cider Vinegar for Psoriasis: Can It Help?

Medically reviewed by Diane M. Horowitz, M.D.
Written by Victoria Menard
Posted on February 23, 2021

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the skin. This causes inflammation and the accelerated production of skin cells, resulting in patches of thick, scaly skin.

There are many treatment options that your dermatologist may recommend or prescribe to soothe the symptoms of psoriasis and alleviate psoriasis flare-ups. In addition to these medical treatments, many MyPsoriasisTeam members have tried natural remedies and home remedies to help ease their symptoms, including apple cider vinegar (ACV).

What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made from apples that have been crushed, distilled, and fermented. In the fermentation process, yeast digests the natural sugars in apples, converting them into alcohol. This alcohol is then turned into acetic acid, which gives ACV its sourness, via a bacteria known as acetobacter.

The combination of yeast and bacteria formed during fermentation is known as the “mother.” Strands of this probiotic can be seen floating around in a bottle of unfiltered ACV. Along with probiotics, ACV contains nutrients and plant-based antioxidants. The nutrients, probiotics, and acetic acid are said to be responsible for the potential health benefits of apple cider vinegar.

Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help With Psoriasis?

Some people believe that apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve symptoms of autoimmune diseases like psoriasis. However, there is no conclusive proof that ACV helps lower inflammation in humans. Although one study from 2004 showed that ACV might help alleviate chronic inflammation (rather than acute, or short-term inflammation), no large, randomized studies have been conducted to determine whether ACV could help relieve inflammation-related symptoms.

Ultimately, the National Psoriasis Foundation advises that natural treatment options like apple cider vinegar can be effective for some people when used alongside traditional treatments recommended or prescribed by doctors. As always, talk to your doctor before incorporating any new treatments or remedies into your psoriasis care routine.

MyPsoriasisTeam Members on Apple Cider Vinegar

Some MyPsoriasisTeam members swear by apple cider vinegar as an approach to managing itchy skin, irritation, and other psoriasis symptoms. One member wrote that an ACV foot soak “sure seems to help,” while another said, “I started using apple cider vinegar about two weeks ago, and there are signs that the psoriasis on my elbow is starting to clear.”

After applying apple cider vinegar after a bath, another member noticed “an immediate difference the very next morning.” They added, “After several uses, I can wear [my dress for my daughter’s wedding] with confidence.”

However, some members have found that ACV wasn’t the remedy they’d hoped for. One simply wrote, “I tried apple cider vinegar. It didn’t work.” Another member responded that they were taken aback when a health care provider recommended ACV, adding, “I had two feet that were shaped like softballs, covered in blisters with cracked-open skin.” They went on to explain that because of the open cracks and blisters on their feet, soaking in apple cider vinegar is actually very painful.

How Can Apple Cider Vinegar Be Used for Psoriasis?

There are several ways that MyPsoriasisTeam members use ACV to treat psoriasis. Some opt for topical application, which may involve taking baths with ACV or applying the vinegar to affected areas, while others consume ACV in liquid or tablet form. Make sure when drinking ACV that you dilute it with water. It is highly acidic and may irritate your throat if you drink it often or in large amounts.

Apple Cider Vinegar Baths and Soaks

MyPsoriasisTeam members have many different recommendations for bathing with ACV. One wrote that they soak in warm water with apple cider vinegar or sea salt for 20 minutes before showering with tar soap. They blot their skin dry, keeping it slightly damp, before applying ointment everywhere. They wrote that this regimen helps them “sleep like a baby.”

The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends a similar routine that involves adding Dead Sea salt or Epsom salts to warm (not hot) bath water, soaking for about 15 minutes, and applying moisturizer after bathing.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Scalp Psoriasis

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, apple cider vinegar can be used to help alleviate an itchy scalp. They recommend applying organic apple cider vinegar to the scalp several times a week. It’s advised that you dilute the ACV with water in a 1-to-1 ratio if you experience a burning sensation or irritation, and rinse the scalp once the solution has dried. As with any ACV treatments, avoid using vinegar on the scalp if you have open wounds, cracks, or bleeding.

One MyPsoriasisTeam member shared their ACV scalp care regimen: “I use Bragg’s ACV. Soak your head and hair, put a cheap shower cap on and wait 20 minutes, then wash your hair with pine tar soap or whatever you use. You can do this every day or a few times a week. It took the scales off of my scalp, ears, neck, and shoulders.” This member also advised applying A&D ointment immediately after and, if you’re going to bed, wearing a shower cap to keep the ointment off your bedding.

Another member offered some tips for application: “You will need to separate the hair like you would when you are making a part. I use cotton wool to dab the scalp with apple cider vinegar.” They also cautioned members who dye their hair: “If you color your hair, it will take the color out — that’s the downside.”

Consuming Apple Cider Vinegar

Some MyPsoriasisTeam members prefer to consume ACV as a liquid or in tablets or capsules. One member shared that they take apple cider vinegar alongside vitamin D every day, while another recommended adding apple cider vinegar and lemon to your diet.

One member who tried ACV pills shared their experience: “I have started taking apple cider vinegar pills just this week. I have noticed that most of my spots seem lighter in color and are not as bright red since taking the pills. I’m hoping this continues helping to clear my skin some more.”

Consuming apple cider vinegar is generally safe. However, UChicago Medicine advises that certain health conditions can make consuming apple cider vinegar dangerous. For example, if you have chronic kidney disease, your kidneys may not be able to process the excess acid from drinking ACV. You may also want to drink plenty of water after drinking ACV, as the acid in the vinegar may erode teeth enamel. Keep in mind that some people have also noted that acidic foods and liquids, such as ACV, can worsen acid reflux.

Talk to Your Doctor and Do Your Research

Your doctor is your best source of information when it comes to treating your psoriasis. Always ask them before trying a new remedy — even if it’s something you can buy at your local grocery store. Although apple cider vinegar may help alleviate psoriasis symptoms in some people, it isn’t a replacement for medical treatments and your doctor’s advice.

Get Advice From Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 108,000 members from around the world come together to swap advice, share their stories, and offer support.

Have you used apple cider vinegar for psoriasis? Join MyPsoriasisTeam and share your experience with others by leaving a comment below or starting a new conversation thread.

Posted on February 23, 2021
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Diane M. Horowitz, M.D. is an internal medicine and rheumatology specialist. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about her here.
Victoria Menard is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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