The Complete Guide on Using CBD Oil for Eczema
Eczema is an extremely common skin condition that causes symptoms such as dry skin, irritation, itching, and inflammation. There are many different varieties of eczema, but the most prevalent by far is atopic eczema. This skin condition may affect as many as 30% of Americans and is most common in children or adolescents.
Many young children grow out of eczema, but for some people, it can develop later in life and last for many years. Although the symptoms of eczema are relatively easy to treat, the underlying causes often remain. This means that flare-ups are a genuine problem for people with eczema, who usually just accept them as an inevitable aspect of the disease.
But what if there was a therapy that could treat eczema from the inside out? And could that therapy already be right under our noses, just waiting to be discovered? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is Eczema?
Eczema, very simply put, is an inflammation of the skin. Inflammation is a healthy and natural response by your immune system when it is exposed to injury or infection. It occurs when your body is working hard to expel a foreign substance or pathogen and offers a certain level of protection throughout the healing process.
However, sometimes your immune system overreacts and creates inflammation when it is not really necessary. This inflammation can happen in any part of the body, but when it affects the skin, eczema is one of the possible results.
There are many different varieties of eczema, each of which has slightly different triggers and symptoms. However, the thing that all of them have in common is they all have inflammation as their root cause. This inflammation causes the skin to become itchy, red, and sore. It is also common for people with eczema to have very dry skin which can lead to cracking, bleeding, and the risk of infection.
Many people with eczema also suffer from sleep problems as intense itching may keep them awake at night. Otherwise, they may have low self-confidence due to the cosmetic appearance of the condition.
Atopic eczema often occurs in combination with other inflammatory or allergic conditions such as asthma or rhinitis. It is unclear exactly what causes eczema, but it appears to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Many people find that their eczema gets worse when they eat certain foods, come into contact with chemicals, or are under a lot of stress.
Treatments for Eczema
If you have eczema, the most important thing you can do on a daily basis is to keep your skin well moisturized. This extra moisture will help to soothe symptoms such as itching and reduce the likelihood of flare-ups occurring. Choose a high-quality, unscented emollient and frequently apply throughout the day. You could also consider adding moisturizing oils to your bathwater.
Doctors most often treat eczema flare-ups with corticosteroid creams. Corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone and betamethasone are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, and when you apply them directly to the skin, they offer fast and effective relief from eczema symptoms.
However, they can also cause some serious side effects. The most common of these is thinning of the skin, which leaves it more vulnerable to injury and infection. They can also cause the skin to change color, or cause other skin problems such as acne.
Because of these side effects, patients should only use corticosteroids for short periods at a time. And many people with eczema find that as soon as they stop using their steroid cream, their symptoms quickly return.
There are currently not many other options available to eczema sufferers, especially when it comes to long-term management of their disease. However, cannabidiol (CBD) has now become well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Could this novel treatment offer some relief from the symptoms of eczema? Initial research suggests that it may well help.
CBD for Skin Health
There is not much research out there specifically regarding CBD for eczema, but there is plenty of research that documents the beneficial effects of CBD on the skin.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and forms a protective barrier between your vital organs and the outside world. It is continuously exposed to environmental irritants and toxins, not to mention ever-changing weather conditions. This means that it can be very prone to inflammation, especially in individuals with a genetic tendency towards eczema.
Your skin also helps to regulate your body temperature. It does this by raising or lowering your body hair, and allowing you to sweat.
Scientists have recently discovered that skin contains cannabinoid receptors. These are receptors that bind with endogenous cannabinoids that your body produces as well as phytocannabinoids which come from the cannabis plant.
These receptors are an essential element of the endocannabinoid system, a system that we now know is directly involved in allergic inflammation. Studies on mice have shown that animals lacking these cannabinoid receptors have a greater allergic response compared to controls. This finding is supported by a further study which found that dogs with atopic dermatitis had greater immune reactivity at cannabinoid receptors compared to their healthy counterparts.
Experts have suggested that treating the endocannabinoid system with cannabinoids such as CBD could help skin conditions like eczema by reducing inflammation and relieving dry skin. Because cannabinoid receptors are also present in the nervous system, CBD can also help to soothe eczema symptoms such as itching and pain.
Cannabinoids such as CBD also have antimicrobial properties, which could help prevent secondary infections.
How to Use CBD for Eczema
CBD is naturally found in cannabis plants, but it is often used medicinally in the form of extracts, oils, or topical creams.
Taking CBD oil by mouth is one of the best ways to maximize its effects. CBD oil can be taken as it is, or mixed into food or beverages. CBD capsules and gummies are also available and offer a more convenient way of dosing.
When you take CBD oil for the first time, it is always advisable to start off with the lowest dose possible and gradually increase it over time. CBD is unlikely to cause any side effects, but it is best to err on the side of caution and take it slow. Building up your dosage in this way also means that you can find the lowest dose that works for you, so it could save you money in the long run.
Topical CBD creams are another great way to relieve inflammation and discomfort and you can apply them directly to where you need them most. Look for products with natural ingredients to avoid causing further irritation. Some products also contain other skin-soothing ingredients such as coconut or lavender oil. Test on a small patch of skin first, and avoid using these products on broken skin.
Is CBD Safe for Children with Eczema?
If your child has eczema and you are wondering whether CBD oil is safe for your child, it’s best to consult your pediatrician. If you are using CBD for children, make sure to avoid any products that contain the psychoactive compound in cannabis, THC.
THC can be harmful to children as their brains and nervous systems are still developing. The good news is that most high-quality CBD products contain negligible amounts of THC.
Some marijuana breeders have even developed low THC strains such as Charlotte’s Web, named after the famous case of Charlotte Figi. Charlotte Figi suffered from a rare type of epilepsy and was having multiple seizures every day. CBD oil helped to reduce her symptoms dramatically, and many similar cases have now been reported around the world.
These low THC products do appear to be safe for children, although the long-term effects are still unknown. Talk to your physician to learn more.
CBD for Eczema: Final Thoughts
Eczema is an extremely common and distressing skin condition. It can be challenging to treat effectively, as conventional therapies may cause side effects and only offer short-term relief.
Although there is no doubt that more research is required, it seems that CBD could provide a natural solution for eczema by reducing inflammation, itching, and pain.
Have you tried using CBD for eczema? Help others with this irritating condition by sharing your experiences in the comments below!
Thinking about using CBD for eczema and other related skin problems? Here's everything you need to know about how, and why, it could help.
Get the Facts: CBD
By Emily Delzell
Published On: Jun 18, 2020
Last Updated On: Oct 23, 2020
From creams to body oils to facial serums and more, there’s a good chance you can find a CBD-containing topical at a grocery store, pharmacy or specialty shop near you. Many of these products promise to clear, heal and otherwise soothe symptoms of eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid, a chemically active molecule found in plants in the cannabis sativa family, which includes both marijuana and hemp. Unlike the best-known cannabinoid, THC (delta -tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD isn’t “psychoactive.” In other words, it won’t get you high. Like THC, however, CBD has some potentially potent health effects.
“I think topical CBD is a very promising treatment for eczema; in theory, it could decrease itch, pain and inflammation. In the correct vehicle, it could also help heal the skin barrier,” said Peter Lio, MD, who is clinical assistant professor of dermatology and pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the founding director of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Center.
How can CBD help the skin?
Since the 1990s, scientists have known that humans (and many other animals) have a complex system of cannabinoid receptors running throughout the body, including in the skin. This endocannabinoid system helps regulate and normalize many physiological processes, including pain, mood, stress, sleep and immune system function.
The body makes its own cannabinoids that activate the system, and CBD and other plant-based cannabinoids also stimulate its healing effects. “Specifically, CBD has anti-inflammatory, anti-itch and anti-pain properties that make it extremely attractive as a medicinal compound, particularly in dermatology,” said Lio.
Is there any scientific evidence that CBD topicals improve eczema symptoms?
There are very few studies of topical CBD in people with eczema. A small study published in 2019 in Clinical Therapeutics that included a few people with atopic dermatitis found that a CBD ointment helped clear skin and reduced itch and the sleep loss it caused.
Research also suggests CBD is anti-microbial, with some data showing it works about as well as antibiotics to kill Staphylococcus aureus. Staph can infect the skin of people with atopic dermatitis, triggering flares and other complications.
“Evidence in humans is still pretty limited, which means it’s hard to know how well CBD works for eczema, or the key components necessary for success,” Lio said. Clearer answers about CBD and eczema may be available soon. The results from a trial of a CBD gel in about 200 people with moderate atopic dermatitis are due this year.
So, are CBD topicals safe—and worth a try—for people with eczema?
Research to date shows topical CBD is safe.
“I think that for adults who want to try a CBD topical, there’s little to lose,” said Lio, who noted he has many patients who said they benefit from the products. Like anything else applied to skin, CBD products can cause reactions, so test a small area over a few days before applying widely.
What else do I need to know before buying a CBD cream or oil?
Some CBD products are labeled “isolate,” which means CBD is the only cannabinoid they contain. Broad- and full-spectrum CBD products are made with multiple cannabinoids, sometimes including THC.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration doesn’t verify how well specific CBD products work, whether they’re safe or if they contain the labeled compounds. Lio suggests asking your dermatologist to vet specific products.
Reputable manufacturers may also offer a certificate of analysis (COA). Often found on company websites, COAs are compiled by an independent, accredited laboratory and detail the quantities of a product’s various cannabinoids.
Are CBD products legal?
Usually, but state laws vary. CBD is legal on the federal level and in most states. THC is legal in some states but still illegal under federal law. Check the laws in the state you’re living or traveling in if you’re unsure.
Topicals made from this cannabis plant component are everywhere, promising better skin and more. While more research is needed, some experts think they’re worth a try for eczema.