Does Vinegar Really Help Relieving Sunburn?

Written By Abeer Fatima
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Adnan Maqsood


Family Urgent Care is one of the fastest-growing providers of urgent medical care and telehealth. We have 3 locations in the heart of Chicago and Schererville. No appointments are required, and most clinics are open seven days a week, to treat non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

Ever had that post-beach stinging moment where your sunburned skin sends you on a hunt for sunburn relief remedies? You might be stumbling upon a popular folk remedy of applying apple cider vinegar on sunburn.

If yes, wait! Before you pick the vinegar bottle, let’s find out whether it’s safer to apply this age-old remedy to sunburned skin or not.

You might also be looking for some alternatives to sunburn, right? Roll your sleeves, as here we’ve summed up some other ways to get instant sunburn relief.

But first, let’s delve into the science of what happens in sunburn to understand the unseen processes better.

What Happens When Your Skin Gets Sunburned?

Ever wondered why that extra hour under the sun turns your skin tomato-red? It all starts with the ultraviolet radiations of the sun, which are like invisible arrows piercing through your skin.

According to Cleveland Clinic, sunburn happens when your skin is overexposed to ultraviolet radiation, which damages the primary layer of skin, causing cellular damage.

Due to prolonged exposure, your body’s inflammatory response comes to the rescue, where your blood vessels dilate and increase blood flow, causing redness, itchiness, and swelling in your skin. Sunburn alert activated! This is when you start feeling pain, itchiness, and a burning sensation.

Further, there is a second-degree sunburn that presents itself with severe symptoms such as blisters, bumps, nausea and fever, also termed sun poisoning or sun sickness.

Mild sunburn are not very serious until you have a pre-existing condition or very sensitive skin. You’ll see the full impact of sunburn within 24 hours, and it will heal within three to five days.

Now, to treat it quickly, if you’re thinking of reaching for that vinegar bottle from your kitchen cabinet, hold on! Let’s pause and explore whether treatment from apple cider vinegar is backed by research or not.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good For Sunburn?

The safety of applying apple cider vinegar for sunburn is a bit of a mixed bag. Diluted vinegar has been a classic grandmother folk remedy to treat sunburn issues.

This potential sunburn soother has been passed down through generations as its popularity stems from the belief that its anti-inflammatory properties alleviate the discomfort caused by sunburn.

On the other hand, as we dive into the scientific perspective regarding vinegar for sunburn relief, clarity on its safety and effectiveness becomes more elusive. Despite its cultural significance and popular go-to remedy, the efficacy of apple cider vinegar for sunburn lacks scientific research.

Now, this absence of concrete evidence leaves us in a delicate balance, questioning whether this folk remedy is safe to be used for sunburn or not.

Here’s when we move on to dermatologist opinions regarding vinegar for sunburn relief.

What Do the Doctors Say About Using Vinegar For Sunburn Relief?

Whereas some doctors acknowledge the antibacterial and cooling properties of apple cider vinegar for sunburn, others acknowledge its potential to cause irritation and exacerbate skin damage.

Dr. Carol Cheng, MD, a dermatologist and a professor, warns against the use of apple cider vinegar on sunburn, highlighting its acidic properties that can cause more irritation.

Furthermore, applying undiluted vinegar on burns doesn’t sound very comforting, as acid can cause burns instead of soothing them.

Another piece of evidence comes from the Mayo Clinic and American Academy of Dermatology, who advise cooling sunburned skin with cool tap water, be it compressing or bathing. On the safer side, they also recommend using a moisturizer, aloe vera gel, or hydrocortisone cream if there’s persistent redness and discomfort.

Safe Way To Apply Apple Cider Vinegar to Sunburn

Are you curious about how ancient folks applied vinegar to tame mild sunburns? As we step back in time, we find two safe methods from the bygone era that are still used today.

  • A popular approach involves adding highly diluted apple cider vinegar into your bathtub, which is believed to provide a cooling effect on sunburned areas.
  • People also spray diluted vinegar and water on mildly sunburned skin to reduce inflammation and promote a cooling effect.

A quick heads up! These methods of application of vinegar to sunburn haven’t received support from scientific research or evidence; rather, they rely on traditional solutions.

A Word Of Caution: If you have very sensitive skin, any pre-existing skin condition, or you’re dealing with a more severe second-degree sunburn, refer to a nearby healthcare professional or dermatologist. Do not use home remedies without consulting a doctor, as it can heighten the risk of further complications.

What Are Some Better Ways To Treat Sunburn?

As suggested by Cleveland Clinic, the first and foremost step to take when treating a sunburn is to cool down your skin with a shower and apply a moisturizer on sun-exposed areas.

You should allow your skin the grace of time to heal naturally if you have mild sunburn. If you do not have sensitive skin or a serious sunburn, you can also utilize at-home remedies to cool down your skin to relieve inflammation.

One popular at-home remedy you can use is to apply aloe vera gel or cucumbers to soothe and cool down the burning sensation from a sunburn. It’s like a mini spa for your sun-soaked skin, giving that sunburn a chill-out session.

However, note that cucumbers or aloe vera do not cure the burn itself but act as a cooling agent that keeps skin discomfort at bay.

Conversely, if you’re puffy or your skin feels sore, swing by a nearby Pharmacy for an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory cream to calm down the redness and swelling.

Reminder: If you experience symptoms such as blisters, scarring on sun-exposed areas, or fever, it’s crucial to consult with a nearby urgent care clinic or a dermatologist promptly. These signs may require proper medical attention and specific treatment for optimal care and healing.


To sum up, we’ve observed mixed opinions about applying apple cider vinegar on sunburn. While grandma’s remedies have their charm, it is essential to note that many dermatologists recommend going for safer alternatives.

For expert guidance and care, our urgent care clinic is here to provide the thoughtful attention your skin deserves.

Visit us in Rogers Park, Lincoln Park, or Schererville to experience expert care for all your sunburn concerns.

Related Blogs