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Can You Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Sunburns?

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Apple Cider Vinegar For Sunburns

ACV has shown effect in healing burn wounds faster, with fewer scar tissues, and normal hair follicles in rabbits. It has also shown proven effect against a bacteria that infects burned skin, but there's no concrete proof yet of its effect on human skin. And because it has hardly any vitamin C or E, contrary to what most believe, it cannot alleviate the symptoms of or protect against sunburns.

Who doesn’t love a day in the sun, especially if it’s by the sea? Relaxing on the beach on a sunny day is one of the most rejuvenating things one can do during a holiday. But then, fun and frolic in the sun can also have its downsides, namely, sunburns. And even if you are not holidaying, just stepping out in the harsh summer sun without taking measures to protect yourself can render you vulnerable to sunburns.

What Are Sunburns?

When you are in the sun, your skin gets exposed to two types of damaging UV rays, UVA and UVB. While UVB is associated with sunburns and UVA with tanning, both types contribute to the risk of skin cancer.

In the initial stage of the damage, more melanin—the pigment that gives your skin its color and protects against the sun—rushes to the skin to control and prevent further damage, giving you a sun tan.1 But if you stay longer, the UV rays overpower the melanin and start altering or damaging the skin cells’ DNA and RNA. In reaction, healthy cells nearby start an inflammatory process to clear out the damaged cells before they become cancerous and to begin the healing process.There’s an increased blood flow to your skin, and this makes it look red and raw.2

What Are The Symptoms?

While lighter-skinned people can get sunburns within 10 to 15 minutes of exposure, darker-skinned people are slightly more protected because of their naturally higher levels of melanin, but not entirely. The usual symptoms are redness, blisters, tenderness, warmth, and pain, depending on the intensity of the burn. Later, when the healing process is under way, patches of sunburned skin may even peel off. Extreme sunburns can be excruciating and may need a visit to the hospital. And even one painful sunburn, just once every two years, can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer.3
Usually, sunburns subside within a few weeks’ time, but during the healing period, you need to be careful to avoid further sun damage. Many people recommend apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a folk remedy. This vinegar, made by fermenting apples, does show efficiency in lowering cholesterol and helping the heart, but can it cure or prevent sunburns? Let’s see.

Can ACV Heal Or Prevent Sunburns?

It Has Been Seen To Heal Burns

An animal study on the effectiveness of ACV in healing burn wounds on rabbits showed promise.4 The wound contracted faster; there were fewer scar tissues; and there were more normal hair follicles. This is good news, but there are two catches here.

  • While the researcher attributes it to high percentage of pectin, vitamins B1, B2, B6, A,  C, and E, as well as minerals and salts in ACV, the USDA claims that there is no significant amount of these nutrients present in ACV.5 So we still do not know which nutrients in it helped achieve this effect.
  • There has been no human study yet to prove it works on sunburned humans too.

It Can Prevent Infection Of Your Sunburn

Sunburns often come with blisters, which when ruptured can get infections and sepsis. And one common bacteria that infects burns is Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Ideally, since ACV is primarily made up of acetic acid, which possesses excellent antibacterial activity against micro-organisms such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa,6 it can protect your sunburned skin. But without a human study on this use, we can’t be entirely sure.

It May Not Protect You From Sun Damage

Vitamins C and E help reduce sunburn reaction and possible long-term effects of UV rays, with vitamin E fighting the damaging effects of UVB and vitamin C fighting UVA-related damage.7 And people who take these vitamins can actually sustain UV radiation for a longer time before it causes a sunburn on their skin.8

It is believed that ACV is effective in protecting your skin from UV damage, because of the vitamins it contains. However USDA has already informed us that there’s little if any vitamin C or E in ACV, so that cant be the reason. There is not much evidence to support the belief that ACV has a protective effect against UV damage.

How To Use ACV For Sunburns?

One possible reason ACV is so popular with people with sunburns is that it has a cooling effect, which can give you some temporary relief. So if you want to try it out, dilute it with water. Otherwise it might damage your skin even further. These are some of the popular ways to do it.

  • Spray a water and ACV mixture on the sunburned area. Or wet a napkin in the mixture and dab it on the skin lightly.
  • Take a bath with cool water mixed with a few drops of ACV.
  • Mix a tablespoon of ACV to the oil from two vitamin E tablets, a teaspoon of lavender oil, and half a cup of aloe vera gel. The aloe vera has skin-healing and anti-inflammatory properties, while the lavender oil can heal sunburns.
  • Mix a tablespoon of baking soda and water with 1–2 teaspoons of ACV and a few drops of peppermint oil. The baking soda has anti-septic properties, while the peppermint oil gives a cool, relaxing effect. Apply this to the sunburned area and rinse off after 5–10 minutes.

References   [ + ]

1.Brenner, Michaela, and Vincent J. Hearing. “The protective role of melanin against UV damage in human skin.” Photochemistry and photobiology 84, no. 3 (2008): 539-549.
2.UC San Diego Health, What Happens When We Sunburn
3.How the Sun and UV Cause Cancer. Cancer Research UK. March 24, 2015. Accessed August 11, 2016.
4.Ashraf, Waleed A. “EARLY EVENT IN EFFECT OF APPLE CIDER VINEGAR ON THE INDUCED BURN HEALING IN RABBITS.” Iraq Academic Scientific Journals. September 18, 2012. Accessed July 21, 2016.
5.United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, Basic Report: 02048, Vinegar, cider a
6.Fraise, A. P., M. A. C. Wilkinson, C. R. Bradley, B. Oppenheim, and N. Moiemen. “The antibacterial activity and stability of acetic acid.” Journal of Hospital Infection 84, no. 4 (2013): 329-331.
7.Darr, Douglas, STANLEY DUNSTON, HOLLY FAUST, and SHELDON PINNELL. “Effectiveness of Antioxidants (Vitamin C and E) With and.” Acta Derm Vcnereol (Stockh) 76 (1996): 264-268.
8.Eberlein-König, Bernadette, Marianne Placzek, and Bernhard Przybilla. “Protective effect against sunburn of combined systemic ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and d-α-tocopherol (vitamin E).” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 38, no. 1 (1998): 45-48.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.