Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help Your Feet?

Apple cider vinegar has become a “cure-all” over the last few years for everything from diabetes management to acne to heartburn. But what about when used for your feet?

  • Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties from the active ingredient of acetic acid. Apple cider has a stronger acetic acid concentration than other vinegars, whilst still being gentle on the skin.
  • Regular soaking of feet in apple cider vinegar can help reduce odour, calm itching, and soften and hydrate the skin
  • For fungal infections such as athlete’s foot (tinea) or fungal nails, a regular regime of soaking the feet in apple cider vinegar has been shown to cause infections to clear faster in a large number of patients [1].
  • The evidence is even stronger if the vinegar soaks are paired with other medicated treatments and changes in hygiene [2].  Ask your podiatrist about treatment combinations suited to your needs.
  • Evidence for apple cider vinegar effectiveness on plantar warts is weaker, however many patients find benefit to vinegar soaks in combination with other wart treatments such as salicylic acid.
  • There is no single non-medicated treatment is a cure-all for fungal feet infections. However, many patients find benefit from apple cider vinegar due to its price, accessibility, and ease of application at home.
  • The only materials you need for a foot soak are a bottle of apple cider vinegar and a container to put your feet in, preferably with a lid so you can re-use the vinegar for multiple soaks. The same vinegar can be re-used for up to a week before changed to fresh vinegar.
  • A daily soak for 10-15 minutes has the best current evidence for treatment of bacterial and fungal infections including tinea, fungal nail infections, and pitted keratolysis [1].
  • Not everyone is suitable for apple cider vinegar application on their feet, especially if the skin is fragile or broken. The vinegar may also need to be diluted depending on the patient.

Ask your podiatrist for more details on a soaking regime if you think apple cider vinegar might be right for you. You can book your appointment online HERE.

[1] Yagnik, D., Serafin, V. and J. Shah, A. (2018) “Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression,” Scientific Reports, 8(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-18618-x.

[2] Bansal, M., Budhiraja, U. and Bansal, H. (2020) “Contemporary pursuits of vinegar from scullery to dermatology,” International Journal of Research in Dermatology, 6(5), p. 708. Available at: https://doi.org/10.18203/issn.2455-4529.intjresdermatol20203539.

Written by Erin Ritchie (Podiatrist)