Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes your skin cells to start growing faster than usual. This causes thick, red, dry, raised, and scaly patches to appear on the skin. These patches are known to burn, itch, sting, and flake, causing immense discomfort and embarrassment to people who suffer from it. Psoriasis can affect a wide area, or it can be limited to a small area. It is most likely to affect your scalp, arms, legs, elbows, soles of the feet, face, palms, and the lower back. The psoriasis patches can also range from being just a couple of affected spots of dandruff-like scaling to more major outbreaks that cover larger areas. There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are medications and topical treatments available that can help manage the symptoms of psoriasis. However, these treatments are known to cause various adverse reactions, and as a result, many people start using natural remedies such as apple cider vinegar to alleviate their symptoms. But can apple cider vinegar help in psoriasis? Read on to find out.
Can Apple Cider Vinegar help in Psoriasis?
For hundreds of years now, apple cider vinegar has been used for its antimicrobial properties. It has been used as a disinfectant, and even as early as the 18th century, doctors were using apple cider vinegar for treating various skin conditions like eczema and poison ivy. (1,2,3) More recent research has found that apple cider vinegar can be effectively used to relieve the itchiness associated with psoriasis, especially when psoriasis affects the scalp. The National Psoriasis Foundation also supports these findings that apple cider vinegar can help soothe the irritation or itching that usually accompanies a flare-up of psoriasis. Even various Ayurveda practitioners support the use of this vinegar for relieving the symptoms of psoriasis. (4,5)
Supporters of apple cider vinegar for psoriasis recommend using the vinegar directly on the scalp a couple of times a week. Many people have reported observing an improvement in their scalp condition within just a few weeks.
However, the use of apple cider vinegar is not recommended if the scalp is bleeding, cracked, or there are any open wounds on the scalp. This is because apple cider vinegar is going to aggravate the pain and irritation in such cases. Vinegar causes a burning sensation when applied to an open wound that is cracked or bleeding. So in such cases, moderating the dose may help avoid aggravating the irritation.
To moderate the dose, you can dilute the vinegar with equal parts of water before applying it to the scalp. This will decrease the irritation and burning. You can also rinse the scalp after the vinegar dries up to reduce the effects. (6,7)
Nevertheless, just like other natural remedies, there is very little scientific evidence to support the use of apple cider vinegar for treating psoriasis and other health conditions. Simultaneously, you need to use apple cider vinegar with extreme caution as burning can be a side effect if you fail to dilute the vinegar.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Psoriasis?
If you want to use apple cider vinegar for reducing the symptoms of psoriasis, then remember to buy organic and raw varieties. These contain the highest levels of nutrients and are also minimally processed.
If you want to use apple cider vinegar for treating scalp psoriasis, then you will need to apply it topically to your scalp several times a week.
Apple cider vinegar is a natural anti-itch product, and this is supported even by the National Psoriasis Foundation. (5)
If, after applying the apple cider vinegar, you experience a burning sensation, then you can try diluting the vinegar with an equal amount of water. However, if even after diluting, the burning continues, then stop using the product.
If you have psoriasis on other parts of the body, you can consider taking a bath in diluted apple cider vinegar. To do this, simply add one cup of apple cider vinegar to warm bathwater. Apart from this, you can also apply diluted apple cider vinegar directly to the affected areas. You can use a cotton ball to dip into the solution and apply it to the affected areas.
If a large area of the skin is affected, you can make a compress and apply it. To do this, you need to make a solution with one part apple cider vinegar and three parts lukewarm water. Now soak a washcloth in the solution and apply it to the affected area. Keep the washcloth there for at least one minute.
Risks of Using Apple Cider Vinegar for Psoriasis
Generally, it is safe to use apple cider vinegar for psoriasis symptoms, but certain risks are associated with this type of vinegar. These include:
Allergic reaction and skin irritation: You should not use apple cider vinegar to any kind of open wound. This may cause irritation to your skin. As this is a natural product, it is possible to get an allergic reaction. Symptoms of being allergic to apple cider vinegar include the appearance of a rash or hives, difficulty breathing, fast heartbeat, and dizziness.
Worsening symptoms: Apple cider vinegar is used as a natural remedy to treat many conditions, including acid reflux. However, in some cases, the vinegar may worsen the acidity. Drinking apple cider vinegar may also erode your tooth enamel. If you are taking medications such as blood thinners, you should always consult your doctor before taking apple cider vinegar. Applying undiluted apple cider vinegar to your skin may also lead to burns. (8)
If you have psoriasis and want to consider a remedy that does not have so many side effects, you can consider using apple cider vinegar.
However, do not start applying the vinegar before consulting your doctor or dermatologist. It is also necessary to remember that regardless of how much apple cider vinegar you use on the affected parts of the skin or scalp, there is no scientific evidence to show that this can help treat your skin condition. Also, psoriasis is a condition that different people experience in different ways. So a remedy that works for one person might not necessarily work for another. It is also never a good idea to stop taking your conventional medications for psoriasis and simply revert to using natural remedies. Some doctors recommend using natural remedies to alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis, but it is best if they are used in combination with your prescribed treatment.
- Boyer, J. and Liu, R.H., 2004. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutrition journal, 3(1), p.5.
- Downing, D.L., 1989. Apple cider. In Processed apple products (pp. 169-188). Springer, New York, NY.
- Luu, L.A., Flowers, R.H., Kellams, A.L., Zeichner, S., Preston, D.C., Zlotoff, B.J. and Wisniewski, J.A., 2019. Apple cider vinegar soaks [0.5%] as a treatment for atopic dermatitis do not improve skin barrier integrity. Pediatric dermatology, 36(5), pp.634-639.
- Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centre. 2020. Psoriasis — Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centre. [online] Available at: <https://www.ayurindus.com/psoriasis/?utm_campaign=India+Psoriasis&utm_source=adwords&utm_medium=ppc&utm_term=%2Bhow%20%2Bdo%20%2Byou%20%2Buse%20%2Bapple%20%2Bcider%20%2Bvinegar%20%2Bpsoriasis&hsa_kw=%2Bhow%20%2Bdo%20%2Byou%20%2Buse%20%2Bapple%20%2Bcider%20%2Bvinegar%20%2Bpsoriasis&hsa_net=adwords&hsa_grp=101030789025&hsa_cam=10129809273&hsa_acc=6823292430&hsa_tgt=kwd-909615972923&hsa_ver=3&hsa_ad=437307226986&hsa_mt=b&hsa_src=g&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5ZyJ2eGn6wIV2bWWCh2Q4AJ5EAAYASAAEgKovPD_BwE> [Accessed 19 August 2020].
- Psoriasis.org. 2020. National Psoriasis Foundation. [online] Available at: <https://www.psoriasis.org/integrative-approaches-to-care> [Accessed 19 August 2020].
- Brandon, B., 2014. Apple Cider Vinegar for Health: 100 Amazing and Unexpected Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar. Simon and Schuster.
- Graves, R.J., 1847. Psoriasis, Sycosis, Tinea. The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, 37(7), pp.132-134.
- Bunick, C.G., Lott, J.P., Warren, C.B., Galan, A., Bolognia, J. and King, B.A., 2012. Chemical burn from topical apple cider vinegar. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 67(4), pp.e143-e144.
- Scalp Psoriasis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prognosis, Home Remedies
- Psoriasis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Ways To Cope
- Travel Tips for Psoriasis Patients
- How to Cope With Psoriasis at Work?
- Hand and Foot Psoriasis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
- How to Choose the Right Shampoo When Suffering From Psoriasis?
- Is Psoriasis Painful & How To Manage Flare-Ups of Psoriasis?