Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is basically a miracle elixir—from helping aid weight loss to managing diabetes, it really seems like there’s nothing ACV can’t do.

When used correctly, it also can do wonders for your skin.

“In general, apple cider vinegar may have antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties,” says Michael Kassardjian, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, board-certified dermatologist at Coast Dermatology in Torrance, California. “However, ACV must be used with caution on the skin, as it may cause major irritation when applied topically without being diluted, leading to burns or blisters,” says Dr. Kassardjian.

After all, it is an acid. And while it’s widely available, most concentrations may be too potent to apply to your skin without diluting it. So you shouldn’t just slather it on straight from the bottle.

“It really depends on what area you are using it, for what you are using it, and how sensitive your skin is,” says Dr. Kassardjian. “I would say (to dilute it) at least one part ACV to four parts water, but if you have sensitive skin it is better to start closer to one part ACV to ten parts water.”

Here are four ways ACV can help different skin conditions:

It can help treat acne

Apple cider vinegar can be used as a toner to treat a breakout.

“It can be used as a toner because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It consists of acetic acid and alpha hydroxy acid,” says Dr. Kassardjian. “Acetic acid has keratolytic effects, basically helping unplug blocked pores. And alpha hydroxy acid helps to exfoliate the skin and help in smoothing and improving skin texture, and also helps to absorb excess oils of the skin.”

In addition, ACV can help balance your skin’s pH levels. By reducing pH levels of the skin it can help dry up acne spots and remove dead skin cells.

It can fight foot odour

“The acids in ACV helps to alter pH levels of your skin. In addition to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, this alteration can help to fight off odours,” says Dr. Kassardjian.

If the odour is from athlete’s foot, ACV’s antifungal properties can help treat the fungus to help diminish odour. If your feet stink because of excess sweating, ACV’s antibacterial properties can help fight off odour causing bacteria.

It’s a nice home remedy for bug bites

“ACV is a great home remedy in the use of bug bites (such as mosquito bites) due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It can help alleviate the sensation to itch and soothe the skin,” says Dr. Kassardjian.

It can help treat the symptoms of paronychia

What now? Paronychia is the medical term for superinfected skin around your nails (most likely due to pulling a hangnail.)

 “Paronychia is an infection that occurs under the cuticle, and can be attributed to bacteria and/or a yeast infection,” says Dr. Kassardjian.

“ACV (when diluted in water) can help as a soak for the nail, not only with its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties but can also help with the swelling and pain through its anti-inflammatory properties.”

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