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White Vinegar for Acne

White vinegar is a powerful antiseptic and exfoliant in acne treatment. It is an affordable, effective home acne remedy.
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White vinegar is one of the many home remedies for treating acne. It is easily obtained and one of the many types of vinegar used for a number of domestic, medical and industrial uses.

All varieties of vinegar are solutions of acetic acid in water. They are mild to moderate acidic solutions which are produced from the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria.

They are easily obtained and strong solutions that are known for their ability to disinfect and cleanse surfaces. These solutions need to be diluted before use, though, so as to prevent excessive skin irritation.

White vinegar works similarly to the peroxides especially hydrogen peroxide.

The Vinegars

White vinegar can be produced from any other variety of vinegar. Vinegars are named after the source of ethanol from which they are made.

Some of the common vinegars include malt, wine, sherry, fruit, apple cider, rice, palm, coconut, sugar cane, date, raisin, beer and honey vinegars as well as Asian variants such as kombucha vinegar which is made from a mixture of bacteria and yeasts.

Spirit vinegar has the highest concentration of acetic acid (usually 5 – 20%) and it is made from sugar cane or directly from acetic acid.

Different vinegars are used for different uses in food preparation. Vinegars can be used to make marinades, sauces and flavors as well as serve as condiments and also used to pickle foods.

Medical Uses of Vinegars

Besides their culinary uses, vinegars also have medical uses. They have been shown to reduce the risk of heart diseases and even help lower cholesterol levels.

Vinegars, when taken regularly and in moderation, can also help control blood glucose levels; they can reduce obesity when added to foods by increasing the feeling of fullness and so reducing caloric intakes.

Vinegars, especially white vinegar, have antimicrobial properties. The use of vinegar in reducing infection dates back to Hippocrates who prescribed it for curing recurrent coughs. 

A recent study found vinegar containing 5% acetic acid to be effective against common microorganisms such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Yersinia sp.

Vinegars are also effective antibacterial agents for surface or topical applications. When applied to clean surfaces or to disinfect the skin, 5% acetic acid is known to be effective against 99.9% of bacteria and 90% of molds.

The antibacterial and antiseptic activities of vinegar are mainly due to its acidity. Some of the other contributing acids in vinegars besides acetic acid are gallic acid, caffeic acid, vanillic acid, coumaric acid, sinapic acid, syringic acid and the aldehydes of these acids.

What is White Vinegar?

White vinegar is a colorless solution containing 5 – 8% acetic acid. It can be distilled from any other source of vinegar (but commonly from malt vinegar), and this is why it is also called distilled vinegar, distilled spirit and virgin vinegar.

It is used for cooking, baking, flavoring, pickling and preserving meat. White vinegar is also used for disinfecting surfaces and medicinally as an antibacterial agent.

Unlike spirit vinegar, white vinegar is safe for domestic use. Therefore, it can be used as a home remedy for acne.

However, dilution with water is still advised before use especially for those with sensitive skins. Even when used for cleaning surfaces, white vinegar should be diluted to avoid damage to surfaces.

White vinegar is commonly applied to the skin to treat infections and sunburns. It helps restore the acidity level and the pH balance of the skin, and it also produces a soothing, cooling effect on the skin.

How White Vinegar Works for Acne

While there are no direct studies of the effectiveness of white vinegar in the treatment of acne, the use of vinegar in acne treatment is not without merit.

Besides the anecdotal evidence from years of using white vinegar in this way, there are scientific evidences proving that white vinegar has antimicrobial activity which is due to its acidity.

White vinegar is useful in acne treatment because of two reasons:  it is a powerful antiseptic agent and it helps restore the pH balance of the skin.

As an antiseptic agent, white vinegar can be an effective solution for eradicating acne-causing bacteria that colonize the skin. Such bacteria include Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermis.

Almost all acne cases are caused by these bacteria. Other factors such as hormonal imbalance may contribute to the development of acne.

Both causes lead to two major changes in the nature of the skin. The first change is the enlargement of the sebaceous gland and the increased production of sebum. This is observed as the excessive oiliness of the skin during acne breakouts.

Acne Progression and Vinegar
Increased sebum production creates the ideal growth environment for acne-causing bacteria
The skin pores are blocked by sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells; Acne comedones develop from the clogged pores
Acne bacteria cause deep tissue damage in the skin, deposit toxic byproducts on the skin and change the pH of the skin
An inflammatory response is triggered by the damage; inflammatory acne lesions form
Vinegar kills off these bacteria to stop this chain reaction

With increased sebum production, the skin pores are increasingly blocked by a combination of sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells. This blockage produces acne lesions such as whiteheads, blackheads and pimples. They can also give rise to nodules and cysts which are lumps underneath the skin.

The bacteria causing the acne also interfere with the pH balance of the skin by affecting its fatty acid composition.

Therefore, white vinegar is useful because it kills off the bacteria responsible for these changes. By removing them, white vinegar can reduce the formation of acne lesions and, therefore, the severity of acne breakouts.

Furthermore, by restoring the acid balance of the skin, white vinegar ensures that the skin is no longer an ideal environment for bacterial growth.

In addition, restoring the pH balance also helps improve skin health because the syntheses of essential skin proteins and fatty acids can resume.

How to Apply White Vinegar to Treat Acne

While you can apply white vinegar directly to the area of your skin affected by acne, it is advised that you dilute the vinegar solution with water. This is because white vinegar is considerable acidic (it has a pH of 2.4).

Depending on the concentration of the white vinegar you have, you may have to dilute it up to ten-fold with water.

You may first apply the white vinegar solution on a small area of your skin to see if it is too strong. Note that whatever the concentration, white vinegar will sting a little. But if you do develop skin irritation, mild burn, extensive skin dryness or sharp, lasting stinging sensation, then you have to dilute the white vinegar solution.

Before applying white vinegar to your acne spots, first wash the skin with a mild soap or cleanser. Rinse off but do not dry with a towel.

Apply the vinegar to the skin with a cotton ball. Then leave it or 5 – 10 minutes before rinsing off with cool water.

Other items can be added to white vinegar before applying to your acne. To make a white vinegar mask, you can form a paste with either cornstarch or baking soda. Leave the mask on for 15 minutes before washing it off with warm water.

Since white vinegar has a drying effect on the skin, you may need to apply an oil-free moisturizer after washing it off.

White vinegar does not produce immediate results in acne treatment. For the first week, there may be no improvement at all or even a worsening of your acne symptoms. However, you should stick with the treatment for 3 weeks before determining whether it is effective or not.

Just like any other acne treatment, not everyone benefits from white vinegar. However, those who do, report amazing results.

White vinegar should be combined with other acne remedies when treating severe acne.

It may not be as effective for teenagers because hormonal imbalance through increased production of male sex hormones (which is not treated by white vinegar) is the major contributor to acne at that age.

Next Article: Tocopherols and Tocotrienols for Pimples
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