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How Apple Cider Vinegar Can Make Acne Worse

How Apple Cider Vinegar Can Make Acne Worse

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Acne?

Over the years, apple cider vinegar has become increasingly popular for its health benefits. While some people take it orally, others apply it topically for skin conditions such as acne. While there are some favorable anecdotes claiming that apple cider vinegar is good for acne, there is very little research available to support its effectiveness. Let’s take a closer on how the use of apple cider vinegar may make acne worse.

Apple Cider Vinegar Can Make Acne Worse

Apple cider vinegar is extremely strong and may cause chemical burns with direct application[1]. Typically burns occur after a long of application with apple cider vinegar. However, a short application of apple cider vinegar may cause irritation. Skin irritation has been known to worsen acne. Opened wounds such as popped pimples are particularly susceptible to irritants. Increased irritation may cause inflammation which may lead to hyperpigmentation or darkening of acne scars[2].

How Apple Cider Vinegar Can Make Acne Worse

Some sources have suggested the dilution of apple cider vinegar to decrease its acidity and irritating potential. However, doing so will also decrease the concentration of the active ingredients, namely acetic, critic, lactic and succinic acid. Since active ingredients require optimal concentration to be effective, the dilution of apple cider for use as a toner or cleanser for acne treatment is a complicated process. No research has done on what is the effective way to dilute apple cider vinegar for acne treatment. Therefore, there is a lot of unknown on how to use apple cider vinegar for acne and this can lead to a higher chance of unwanted side effects.

Hence, let’s discuss alternatives that have been shown to be effective for acne treatment.

Alternatives to Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne

Although vinegar is known to eradicate some pathogens, including bacteria, there isn’t much research showing that it can kill Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) – the bacteria that contributes to the formation of acne. It is better off using topical antibiotic like Clindamycin or over the counter benzoyl peroxide to kill the acne bacteria[3]. Instead of vinegar, try salicylic acid and glycolic acid instead. Like acid vinegar they may not kill P. acnes, but they have been shown to exfoliate the skin and prevent the clogging of pores[4].

Alternatives to Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne Scars

While some use apple cider vinegar in hope to treat acne, others do so to diminish acne scars. As previously discussed, apple cider vinegar can cause burning and irritation; therefore, it is important to consider other skin lightening methods.  In dermatology, the act of using acids to lighten the skin is frequently known as “chemical peeling.” Here, the acid removes the superficial, damaged layer of the skin and promote regeneration[5]. This will improve the texture and pigmentation of the skin. Heavily studied and used acids for this purpose consist of glycolic acids, lactic acids, and tricholeroacetic acids. For less invasive methods, topical acids that have been shown to lighten skin and improve acne scars are kojic acid and azelaic acid[6].  

Apple cider vinegar has some potential to treat acne and diminish acne scars; nevertheless, the side effects and lack of research outweigh the potential benefits. Furthermore, there are affordable and well-studied alternatives that provide great acne benefits. It is recommended to seek out these treatments before considering apple cider vinegar as an acne treatment.


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About the Author:

Articles published on DrFormulas are reviewed by anonymous doctors for accuracy and completeness of information. These doctors have graduated from an accredited medical school in the United States and have either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O) degree.

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