Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is hailed on the internet as a miracle elixir for a wide variety of dermatologic conditions. From treating warts and sunburns to reducing acne and scars, apple cider vinegar can seemingly cure it all. ACV is also commonly used as an all-purpose remedy for age-related skin ware that causes fine lines and wrinkles. These uses and many others hardly scratch the surface of what people claim ACV can do. While there is some reason to believe apple cider vinegar is beneficial for some purposes, evidence is limited and anecdotal for others. The topical use of apple cider vinegar for skin health and scar treatment is a controversial subject, and it’s one that demands closer examination. Countless online sources tout the positive benefits of using ACV to flatten and reduce the appearance of scars. The unfortunate truth: most of these claims are misleading.
Continue reading to learn why apple cider vinegar is not a good scar treatment solution and to discover a clinically-proven alternative.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
In its essence, apple cider vinegar is fermented apple juice. The process begins by crushing fresh apples to obtain their liquids. Healthy bacteria and yeast are then added to the liquid to begin the fermentation process—a form of chemical breakdown. During this stage, the sugar from the apple juice converts into alcohol. The alcohol is then transformed into vinegar by the addition of acetic acid, which is what gives vinegar its pungent, sour taste. Additional ingredients like cinnamon and honey are often added to ACV to improve its taste and boost its medicinal properties.
The first known uses of vinegar date back to 5000 BC when the ancient Babylonians used it as a preserving and pickling agent for food. A little more recently, Hippocrates—the father of modern medicine—prescribed ACV in 400 BC Athens to cure a variety of illnesses. Militarily, ACV has been used as an energy tonic and antiseptic by ancient Roman soldiers, Japanese samurai, and American Civil War soldiers. With the many historical uses and applications of apple cider vinegar, it’s no coincidence people today herald it as a cure-all medicine.
Why apple cider vinegar is bad for skin and scar health
Any serious dermatologist would never recommend using apple cider vinegar to treat scars and other skin conditions, and there’s good reason for that. To date, there are no clinical studies that support the efficacy of ACV for scar therapy. Side-effects are unknown and you risk irritating your scar if applied without discretion.
The keratolytic properties of apple cider vinegar are why people consider it an effective scar treatment solution. Keratolyic therapy is a treatment that involves the application of acidic medicine to the epidermis of the skin to remove warts and other lesions. When applied to the skin, keratolytic medicines cause the outermost layer of the skin to break down and shed. This allows new skin cells to take their place, leaving your skin blemish-free.
Plenty of dermatologist-recommended treatments use acid-based medicines for various skin conditions. The main difference between these medicines and apple cider vinegar is the regulation of acid-based compounds. In medical-grade skin ointments, the acid content is measured and tested, ensuring its safety for use on the skin. With ACV the acid content is uncontrolled, and this can lead to chemical burns on your skin. Ouch!
A clinically-proven therapy for scars
Because apple cider vinegar was not created to keep your skin healthy and beautiful, there is potential to do more harm than good. Luckily, a clinically-proven scar care solution does exist, and products are easily attainable online.
Biodermis emerged nearly 30 years ago as the number one provider of silicone gel technology for scars. Medical silicone is a proven topical solution for scar management, and numerous clinical studies since the 1980s have proven its safety and effectiveness for all skin types. Medical silicone comes in a variety of forms, including Epi-Derm gel sheeting, Xeragel ointment, and Pro-Sil scar sticks.