Background: The acidic pH of the stratum corneum (SC) is important for epidermal permeability barrier homeostasis. Acidification of the skin surface has been suggested as a therapeutic strategy for skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis (AD). Objective: We performed an animal study to evaluate the usefulness of acidification of SC for inhibition of AD lesions and to find out if the therapeutic effect of vinegar is attributable to its herbal contents, rather than its acidity. Methods: Five groups of six oxazolone-Treated (Ox)-AD mice were treated for three weeks with creams of different acidity: vehicle cream alone (pH 5.5), neutralized vinegar cream (pH 7.4), pH 5.0 vinegar cream, pH 3.5 vinegar cream, and pH 3.5 hydrogen chloride (HCl) cream. Also, we have compared two groups of Ox-AD mice treated with pH 5.5 vehicle cream or pH 5.5 vinegar cream. Results: Ox-AD mice treated with acidic creams exhibited fewer AD-like lesions, had significantly lower eczema scores, decreased basal by transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and increased SC hydration compared to the groups given only vehicle and neutral cream. There was no significant difference between the acidic vinegar and HCl groups. Between the groups treated with vehicle and pH 5.5 vinegar cream, there was no difference in eczema score, basal TEWL and SC hydration. Conclusion: Application of topical acids, regardless of their source materials, inhibits the development of AD lesions by maintenance of skin surface pH and skin barrier function in murine model.
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