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Can I Use Vinegar on a Sunburn?

Christina Crockett
Christina Crockett

Using vinegar on a sunburn has been a tried and true at-home remedy to relieve sunburn for ages. Vinegar has many health benefits, and soothing sunburned skin is one of them. There is little harm in applying vinegar to sunburned skin, but it is important to use the right vinegar sunburn treatment.

There are many different types of vinegar, but using apple cider vinegar to relieve sunburns is most effective. Other types of vinegar are more popular for cooking purposes but can still be effective for sunburn relief. Apple cider vinegar tends to be better for preventing blistering and peeling.

Red and white vinegar.
Red and white vinegar.

Vinegar is highly acidic, so a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar is recommended. This would be the equivalent of two parts vinegar to one part cool water. Vinegar sunburn treatments can vary, but there are some effective ways you can find relief.

To clean the body of lotions and other chemicals, begin by taking a lukewarm shower and rinsing the skin with cool water only — no soap. Pat your body dry with a towel, being careful not to rub the sunburned skin. Soak towels or washcloths in a vinegar mixture, and place the treated towels on the sunburned areas for as long as 15 minutes. When the towels become warm, soak them again and reapply them to the affected area. This vinegar sunburn treatment can be repeated until pain relief is evident.

A sunburned man.
A sunburned man.

Additional treatments for using vinegar on a sunburn include taking a vinegar bath. Draw a lukewarm bath and combine two parts vinegar with one part water. Soak in the bath for 15 minutes or longer. This sunburn treatment can be repeated often, as well. In addition, a spray bottle with vinegar and water can be used by spraying the affected area with the sunburn treatment mixture.

A person's shoulder peeling from a sunburn.
A person's shoulder peeling from a sunburn.

Repeat treatments in the days following exposure to promote further healing. Applying vinegar for sunburn relief works best immediately after sun exposure or shortly thereafter. Rubbing aloe vera or coconut oil on affected areas after a vinegar sunburn treatment can aid in additional pain relief and mask the scent of vinegar.

Using vinegar on a sunburn is effective because during the fermentation process, the malic acid and acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar help neutralize sunburns and reestablish the skin’s potenz hydrogen (pH) levels. This promotes healing and relief. When skin burns, the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays attack the natural pH balance of skin. This causes inflammation and pain, leading to blistering and peeling of the skin.

Aloe vera gel is commonly used to treat sunburn.
Aloe vera gel is commonly used to treat sunburn.

Vinegar on a sunburn helps draw out harmful free radicals from the skin and restores the skin’s pH balance. This promotes proper healing and has a soothing effect on a painful sunburn. Vinegar also acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps reduce swelling, blistering and peeling of the skin.

Discussion Comments


This past Saturday, I was at my Mom's house for a visit, sitting by her pool under an umbrella. My back was completely exposed and I didn't have any sunscreen on. I have very fair skin and burn quite easily because of medications I am on.

After 15 minutes, I knew I was screwed. My back was bright pink and hurt like hell almost immediately after I got my shirt back on. The following day it was so much worse -- so bad, in fact, that I had to sleep on my kitchen floor because the tile was the coldest surface in the house.

Yesterday, the burning subsided, but then the itch from hell came roaring in. I tried a hot shower which only helped temporarily. Solarcaine made it worse, and itching, I found, was the worst thing to do. Being a new father, we have a ton of baby ointments around. There is a particular diaper rash ointment called Aquaphor. After one application this morning, the itch disappeared and hasn't come back. Almost 10 hours and not even the slightest twinge. Give it a shot. Sorry for the novel.


I get sunburned really badly and always end up peeling. This is one of the worse burns I have had. I had never tried vinegar before, just lotion and I still peel. So this time I tried vinegar for a while then put some lotion on. I Still have not peeled and the redness was reduced considerably. It is definitely worth a try. I only wish I had apple cider vinegar instead of just plain white.


Does the vinegar sting if you have blisters? I have a couple small blisters on my back and the sunburn around them is pretty painful. Should I try a bath with some vinegar in the water, or will it hurt too much?


I used it for the first 15 minutes and it worked within 10 minutes. I think it depends on the type of skin you have as well.


This has worked for me on several occasions. If the burn is severe, it will sting quite a bit. If you catch the burn early, it will stop it. This treatment stops the burn from intensifying. Any damaged cells will be damaged, but it will neutralize the chemical reaction that causes the burn.


It works. I have used it on my kids and myself. I rarely burn, but when I do it is bad. It may sting a little at first. To counter, I sometimes dilute it slightly.


It did not work. It stung like hell! I'm crying. I'm 13 and trust me, 13 year olds. It does not work. It makes it itch more!

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    • Red and white vinegar.
      By: GeoM
      Red and white vinegar.
    • A sunburned man.
      By: soupstock
      A sunburned man.
    • A person's shoulder peeling from a sunburn.
      By: TheSupe87
      A person's shoulder peeling from a sunburn.
    • Aloe vera gel is commonly used to treat sunburn.
      By: cedrov
      Aloe vera gel is commonly used to treat sunburn.
    • Apple cider vinegar can be effective in treating sunburns.
      By: Comugnero Silvana
      Apple cider vinegar can be effective in treating sunburns.
    • A lukewarm bath with added vinegar provides relief to sunburned skin.
      By: araraadt
      A lukewarm bath with added vinegar provides relief to sunburned skin.
    • Vinegar can be put on a sunburn using towels or washcloths.
      By: happytotakephoto
      Vinegar can be put on a sunburn using towels or washcloths.