J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Apple Cider Vinegar for Acitinic Keratosis

For about a year I had noticed a very small (about 2mm by 4mm) patch of rough, scaly skin under my right eye. Sometimes it would heal up, but mostly it was slightly rough and red. I was pretty sure it was a small patch of acitinic keratosis, a skin condition that can develop into skin cancer if untreated (pretty common in the over-40 blond/blue-eyed set). I’d had them several times before in the same general area, and each time I’d gone to the doctor I’d been treated with cryotherapy (a tiny spritz of liquid nitrogen). After the treatment, the area would scab up, and when the scab fell off the skin would be pink and smooth underneath.

But … I didn’t feel like going to the doctor’s office. With my broken foot and gastritis, I’d spent far too much of 2017 in hospitals and doctor’s offices. So I did an internet search to look for alternatives.

A number of people reported good results with multiple daily applications of apple cider vinegar. I decided to give it a try. Here’s what I did:

  1. I poured a couple tablespoons of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar into a glass jar with a lid (so I could keep it in my bathroom without smelling the place up).
  2. Four times a day, I used a Q-tip to apply some apple cider vinegar to the rough patch of skin. I held the Q-tip on the area for at least thirty seconds, with some degree of pressure, so that the apple cider vinegar would really penetrate. This stung slightly, but only for a minute or two after the application.
  3. By the fourth day I could tell a scab was starting to form.
  4. By day twelve the scab fell off, revealing slightly red skin beneath.
  5. By day fourteen the area looked fully healed, and was smooth to the touch.

The area has remained fully healed for a full month, so I guess the cure worked!

Bragg ACV is fancy, organic, and expensive, with live cultures, but I’m pretty sure other types of apple cider vinegar would work as well. I imagine the acetic acid irritates the skin enough to provoke a strong healing response. But maybe there’s something special about the Bragg brand–I have no idea.

Try at your own risk, and if your condition worsens, get thee to a medical professional!


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  1. Ed

    I love ACV. Here in the UK, a certain chain of health food stores sell Bragg’s and also their own version with or without the “mother”. I’ve never noticed any extra benefit from the Bragg’s or even the store one with the mother v the one that doesn’t.

    N.B. The “mother” being the unfiltered proteins and enzymes.

    The point I’m making is that Bragg’s overpriced.

    ACV is great, though. In fact I think I’ve have some now.

  2. Anonymous

    Thank you for posting this. Glad to hear you could avoid a trip to the dermatologist! A relative of mine had a similar experience with actinic keratosis and ACV. It was a patch the dermatologist wanted to remove surgically, but after a couple of weeks of the ACV treatment it simply fell off.

    Here’s my own experience with a long-time patch of actinic keratosis on my left cheek (presumably from years of driving, sitting next to the car window).

    My dermatologist wanted to give me a standard treatment, a costly species of chemotherapy that would keep me in the house for three weeks. (For those interested in that experience, there’s a blog at this link
    http://tonyoverbay.blogspot.mx/2012/05/heads-up-my-battle-with-actinic.html )

    I will grant that this chemotherapy treatment may be necessary for some people to do, but I wasn’t going to do it unless I was confident that I had no other option.

    So I tried apple cider vinegar (ACV)… but I was doing this once a day, apparently that was not often enough for it to work properly. (Four times a day, 30 second press, as you did, that could be the ticket.)

    Here’s my further experience.

    Some other things I tried over the past three years include Perrin Naturals creams (various), and Manuka honey (both under a bandaid overnight). I saw some improvement from these but, alas, I still had that patch of actinic keratosis.

    I was about to go back to the dermatologist when it occured to me go back to using, as I had for some years previously, a glycolic 10 pct solution face cream. (I had given up using the glycolic 10 pct cream because I was not living near a salon that sold it, and it is very expensive and anyway I was thinking of it more for wrinkles.) Long story short, I bought a bottle of glycolic 10 pct lotion and started using it twice a day as I had in the past, as a general face cream, morning and evening and, bingo, that patch of actinic keratosis started improving– it did not go away, but it was markedly improved in only 48 hours! I kept at it, and although the actinic keratosis did not disappear, it was improving more than it had with anything I had tried so far.

    [Vegetarians skip the following paragraph.] Then, after reading about it, as I recall, on the Weston Price webpage, I decided to try Vintage Traditions tallow balm. The argument that this is a very ancient and very nourishing skin treatment made sense to me, and it was something I had not yet tried, and I thought I would try one more method before going back to the dermatologist. I was expecting the tallow balm to be stinky and sort of gross, but they add some essential oils to it so it smells good and it actually feels better on my hands than any lotion. I had to order the tallow balm by mail. Time line is that after using the glycolic acid 10 pct cream as a general face cream for about a month, and seeing some important but not complete improvement in my actinic keratosis, I put on the tallow balm and immediately my cheeks both turned bright red! The redness was not on the surface of the skin, but seemed to be some layers down, and it did not hurt. This was a bit alarming, but since it did not hurt I kept at it, alternating between the glycolic 10pct and the tallow balm, more or less twice a day (sometimes only once a day). The redness on my cheeks did not reappear after the second day, and now, a few months later, after several years of struggling with this, the patch of actinic keratosis appears to be gone.

    Because when I started to see the major, definitive improvement I was using two different creams, the glycolic acid 10pct plus the tallow balm, it’s hard to say exactly what worked for me. For now, I continue to use both creams.

    PS. In my experience, for cuts, a mix of raw honey and Aquafor (1:1, mix with fork or Q-tip) works better than any over-the-counter first aid or antibiotic cream.

    Blog on, and happy 2018!

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