Acetic acid: Uses, dosage, side effects and contraindications

Acetic acid which is also known as ethanoic acid, is a colorless liquid with a sour taste and pungent odor.

It is a type of organic acid that is commonly found in vinegar but is also produced for various industrial applications.

The chemical formula of acetic acid is CH3COOH and is classified as a weak acid. 


This article provides an overview of acetic acid’s dosage, potency, applications, side effects, and contraindications. We used AA to represent acetic acid at some point in the article.

Dosage forms and potency


Acetic acid comes in different forms such as liquid solutions, creams, and gels, with a strength ranging from 5% to 90%.

The effectiveness and potency of AA products depend on their concentration.

In industrial settings, AA is used as a solvent, chemical reagent, and raw material for the production of various chemicals such as vinyl acetate, cellulose acetate, and acetic anhydride.


Use and Applications of Acetic acid

AA has a broad range of uses in both household and medical settings.

In household applications, it is a popular cleaning agent due to its ability to dissolve dirt, grease, and mineral deposits.

It is also used as a food preservative and flavoring agent in vinegar.

In medical settings, AA is used as an antimicrobial agent, wound cleanser, and treatment for fungal infections.

It is commonly used for treating ear infections, diagnosing and treating cervical cancer, and for other medical purposes.

For ear infections, it is used to treat superficial infections of the external auditory canal caused by susceptible bacterial or fungal infections.

Dosage of acetic acid

The dosage of AA depends on its intended use and the product being used.

In medical settings, healthcare providers determine the concentration and dosage of AA.

For susceptible bacterial or fungal infections of external auditory canal, the dosage is to be determined by the severity and patients response.

Before instillation, cerumen and debris should be removed from the ears.

AA is not recommended in children less than 3 years of age as its safety and efficacy is not established among them.

In household applications, the appropriate concentration of AA to be used depends on the purpose for its use or task ahead.

Side effects of Acetic acid

Acetic acid may cause skin irritation, redness, and burning if it comes into contact with the skin.

When instilled into the ears, it may cause occasional burning and stinging sensation.

Its inhalation may cause respiratory problems and eye irritation.

On the other hand, ingesting it can cause abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.


Acetic acid should not be applied to open wounds or damaged skin, as it may exacerbate irritation and slow down the healing process.

People who are known to be allergic or hypersensitive to AA or similar chemicals should not use it.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women must consult with their healthcare provider before using acetic acid containing products.


Acetic acid is a versatile and useful organic acid, but it should be used with caution and according to the appropriate dosage and usage instruction.


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