Can white vinegar treat seborrheic dermatitis?

White vinegar is a natural astringent and has a multitude of medicinal properties. However, there is no evidence that it has antifungal activity against Malassezia and it is not recommended as a treatment for seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff. Applying white vinegar to the skin may cause burning and worsen irritation.  

Let’s take a deep dive:

What is white vinegar?

White vinegar is a clear solution that generally contains about 5% of acetic acid. Most white vinegar is made from fermentation of grain alcohol (ethanol).

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White vinegar vs white wine vinegar

White vinegar has a strong and somewhat harsh taste. White wine vinegar on the other hand, has a much milder and fruitier flavor than white vinegar and is made from white wine. However, the two can be used interchangeably.

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Skin benefits of white vinegar

White vinegar has many medicinal benefits and is a staple in most households. It has also been touted as a great natural remedy for skin problems. It has been used for centuries to clean and disinfect wounds as it has antibacterial properties.

It’s a well-known home remedy for acne. It heals acne faster by killing the bacteria involved, tightening pores and drying out pimples.

Is white vinegar antifungal?

White vinegar has antifungal and antibacterial properties and can be a cheap and effective treatment for household mold. However, I haven’t seen any lab studies on white vinegar’s activity against Malassezia and there are no human studies on the effectiveness of white vinegar as a treatment for seborrheic dermatitis.

Can white vinegar really treat seborrheic dermatitis?

Theoretically, white vinegar could kill Malassezia. However, I suspect it will need to be a stronger, industrial strength version. We may be talking about 20% acetic acid dilution instead of the typical 5%.

I’m definitely not a fan of applying white vinegar on the skin. Even in a super diluted form, it causes stinging and can irritate the skin, causing more redness. Plus, it really stinks.

Seeing as there is no evidence it will help seborrheic dermatitis and it’s not skin-friendly, this is an easy no for me.

Some people say white vinegar is a good way to cleanse your scalp and get rid of any built-up oils or product residue. However, tea tree oil may be a better option for dandruff due to its antifungal properties.

Of all the vinegars, apple cider vinegar probably has the most evidence for seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.

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Side effects of applying white vinegar to the skin

One reason white vinegar is thought to be helpful for the skin is that it is acidic and match the natural pH of our skin better than other products. However, its pH is 2.5 and this is a lot more acidic than most skins. It can be harsh on the skin and can strip away the top protective layer.

White vinegar can also cause an allergic reaction or cause irritation, worsening redness and itch.

To wrap up

I caution against applying white vinegar on your skin or scalp because it may worsen seborrheic dermatitis just by virtue of being so harsh. Apple cider vinegar is definitely the better vinegar to use for SD and dandruff.

2 thoughts on “Can white vinegar treat seborrheic dermatitis?”

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