Some health conditions are easy to manage with simple lifestyle and dietary changes. Others may require the intervention of OTC supplements and medications. But there are ailments whose pesky nature makes people beg for a miracle cure that would heal them once and for all.
Eczema belongs to the last group.
This skin condition can make your life miserable, and to make things worse, it is usually resistant to conventional treatments, such as pharmaceutical medications and ointments.
Recently, people have been raving about CBD’s ability to help with the management of eczema and its symptoms. While CBD isn’t a miracle cure for any condition, studies show there are evident reasons why so many eczema patients find relief in cannabis extracts such as CBD oil.
In today’s article, we’ll explore the health benefits of CBD for Eczema; we’ll also help you choose the right type of CBD to maximize your treatment’s results, and show you what else you can do to ease your symptoms.
What to Know About Eczema?
Eczema is an umbrella term for a group of skin conditions that cause dryness and irritation of the skin. Cases of eczema can be mild and affect a small area or at its worst may cause your entire body to suffer. For some patients, it’s difficult to find a spot that is not irritated.
Mild cases of eczema have little to no impact on a person’s life, coming and going away. However, chronic eczema may cause debilitating discomfort and emotional distress, often having people end up hospitalized to have the condition treated.
Eczema has several subcategories, including discoid eczema which causes disk-like patches of irritated skin, or contact dermatitis where the skin can be irritated by anything it comes into contact with, such as using a particular type of clothing amongst other things.
What Causes Eczema?
While eczema still requires a better understanding when it comes to underlying causes, researchers agree that the most common eczema trigger is an allergy. This may be caused by a reaction to soaps and detergents or due to a particular animal such as household pets.
Furthermore, eczema can be caused by infections or reactions to extreme temperatures. Still, much remains shrouded by a mystery, although it appears eczema has something to do with a compromised immune system on top of the above triggers.
High stress can deteriorate the condition; people going through a divorce or those facing a serious exam or peak stress at work often report their symptoms got worse during that time. There are dermatologists who believe eczema and other skin ailments are also caused by psychological factors because our emotions can have a profound impact on the skin.
To put it simply, imagine a scenario where you feel embarrassed and your skin goes red. This happens as a result of a brief dilation of blood vessels to our skin as a response to a stressful moment. Now, let’s say a subtler version of this affects you, where the stress doesn’t lead to an instant redness, but it slowly changes the blood flow to the skin. The consequence may well be eczema and it often appears weeks or months after the stress has gone, so we often believe other triggers are to blame.
The good news is that eczema isn’t contagious despite its appearance, so it can’t be passed from person to person.
The Symptoms of Eczema
There are some common symptoms for all types of eczema, although not everyone will experience them all of the time. These include:
- Fluid-filled blisters, which may burst and crust over time
- Itchy skin
- Red skin
- Rough scaly patches
Below we cover traditional treatment options, and how they compare to CBD.
How Is Eczema Typically Treated and What Are the Challenges?
Since the skincare market has evolved much since the last decade, finding a suitable cream for eczema should be easy like a walk in the park, right?
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
Eczema fills the barrier of the skin, making it unable to maintain the moisture it needs for protection against the outside environment — including allergens, stressors, and common skin irritants.
Given this, the best eczema creams are thicker and contain both ingredients for skin protection and moisturizing, and humectant ingredients.
Humectants such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin support the skin’s hydration. Other compounds such as colloidal oatmeal, ceramides, and petrolatum help protect the skin against irritants, strengthening its barrier and preventing flare-ups.
Another important thing to consider is adding a moisturizer with more oil. Such products feel greasier but are typically better for treating eczema because they create a thicker barrier. This oily layer helps the skin maintain moisture and keeps irritants at bay.
That’s why ointments are often the go-to choice for eczema treatment, especially since they usually don’t create a burning sensation when applied. On the other hand, ingredients such as petroleum jelly and mineral oil may be good for treating eczema, but they can both ruin things they touch and feel pretty miserable upon application.
High-quality, thick emollient creams are also rich in oils and can seal the moisture barrier effectively. They also have a less greasy texture. However, such products may contain preservatives, stabilizers, and other skin irritants, so make sure to read the list of ingredients carefully.
Regardless of the angle, you want to tackle eczema from, there are some ingredients to avoid at all cost; some of them can even trigger eczema. The list of unwanted ingredients includes exfoliating acids, such as glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids, as well as fragrances and retinol. They dry out the skin and may even worsen irritation.
Finally, steer clear of lotions for eczema, as they primarily contain water and come with the least amount of oil. Lotions also tend to evaporate quickly, taking your skin’s moisture away too. This, in turn, may even lead to burning when you apply the lotion to damaged skin.
Can CBD Oil Help with Eczema?
The problem with traditional treatment for eczema is a relatively high-risk profile of anti-eczema medications. People are often stuck with steroid creams and an endless number of anti-inflammatory and antihistamine pills, both of which can put your health at risk over time.
So, between trying to rescue your thinning, aging skin and save your internal organs along with your sanity, you might be looking for alternative eczema treatment.
Eczema patients simply get used to living with a damaged skin barrier and higher vulnerability to allergens, bacteria, and irritants.
On top of introducing certain lifestyle changes and being more meticulous when it comes to your skincare routine, supplementation with natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants may help you not only improve the look of your skin but also address some of the underlying causes of eczema.
Wondering how CBD oil fits in?
There’s actually a decent amount of research explaining the mechanism.
Although studies have yet to investigate CBD’s efficacy specifically for eczema, current findings of the health benefits of cannabidiol are promising, to say the least.
Here’s everything you need to know.
CBD Benefits for Eczema
Eczema patients have to deal with a few fundamental problems, all of which negatively impact their quality of life, making it difficult to perform simple tasks.
The problems include itching, inflammation, pain, dryness of the skin, and vulnerability to bacterial infections.
This is where CBD starts to shine.
Inflammation is a necessary process in the body’s attempts to heal itself when tissues get damaged. It is a response of the immune system to the onset of infection or an injury. However, in many cases of civilizational diseases, the immune system “acts out” and starts throwing sort of an inflammatory tantrum.
Cannabinoids such as CBD and THC have been shown to effectively reduce inflammation, whether it manifests itself as a condition or a symptom of an underlying disease (1). CBD lowers inflammation by engaging with white blood cells such as macrophages and microglial cells that cause inflammation. CBD also activates glycine receptors, soothing the chronic inflammatory pain (2).
This means that adding CBD oil and other CBD-infused products, such as creams, can help mitigate the effects of severe inflammation and conditions like eczema.
Cannabinoids help your body maintain homeostasis in the skin, meaning that all processes within it are balanced. Poor skin health is associated with atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, pigmentation disorders, and eczema.
On top of its anti-inflammatory benefits, CBD creams possess remarkable anti-itching benefits that can help people with eczema. CBD activates CB2 receptors on the site of the nerve fibers, which mitigates itching signals and soothes skin (3).
As mentioned earlier, colonization of the skin with certain bacteria can contribute to the development of eczema and other skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis. Cannabinoids may help ease eczema by managing the concentrations of this pathogen, which was shown by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) to be the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections.
Numerous studies have touted CBD for its antimicrobial properties against various strains of bacteria (4). Other cannabinoids have also been shown to have similar effects on the skin. Since CBD oil contains terpenes, some of them can strengthen these benefits, contributing to CBD’s anti-eczema potential.
CBD for Dry Skin
Dry skin is among the most persistent and difficult conditions to treat, no matter the cause. Overly moisturized skin is an ongoing issue for folks with skin dehydration because it prevents the skin from producing its natural oils over time. CBD regulates the production of oil in the sebaceous glands, bringing dry skin back into balance and preventing both dry and oily skin (5).
CBD for Pain
Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are generally recognized as effective painkillers. Aside from relieving inflammatory pain, CBD can mitigate pain signals by interacting with opioid and vanilloid receptors in the brain (6). There is some evidence that CBD and THC work best in tandem — the main reason why people prefer full-spectrum CBD extracts to isolates.
How to Use CBD for Eczema?
In our experience, we would say the best way to try CBD for eczema is to take it orally and topically at the time.
Use a full-spectrum CBD oil for the best results. Working with a whole-plant product allows you to balance your body’s endocannabinoid system and immune system more effectively than CBD isolates. And since we know stress is an important factor in many skin problems, taking care of yourself from within is one way to address the problem.
Applying a CBD cream to the irritated area causes the CBD to interact with the skin’s cannabinoid receptors to help reduce inflammation, itching, irritation, and pain. Thus, it may be a decent source of relief for eczema patients.
CBD Products for Eczema
Regardless of which type of CBD you take for eczema, always make sure it comes from a high-quality source. There are some terrible examples of CBD creams and oils on the market where no consideration has gone into their production. They are just some CBD oil thrown into a carrier oil and preservatives to make the product more appealing — you want to steer clear of such low-quality stuff.
CBD is available in many different forms, including oils, capsules, vapes, and topicals. Below we cover each format in detail.
CBD Topicals for Eczema
Like we said, topical CBD products are formulated to target localized problems. CBD creams usually contain a full-spectrum CBD extract (or a broad-spectrum one), an oil base such as coconut oil, hemp oil, or olive oil, or shea butter, and supportive ingredients that the producer deemed compatible with CBD’s benefits.
To apply a CBD topical, you need to rub it into the affected area and wait for a few minutes until it absorbs into the skin’s epidermis layer. From there, it will interact with the CB2 receptors in it, providing relief from the symptoms of eczema. The duration may vary from one person to another; CBD topicals often require another application throughout the day to yield consistent results.
CBD Oil for Eczema
CBD oil is used sublingually, meaning you take it under your tongue. This product contains a CBD-rich hemp extract infused into a carrier oil (usually it’s MCT oil) for higher bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to the amount of CBD that enters the bloodstream upon ingestion.
CBD oil comes in bottles with a dropper attached to them for precise dosing. To apply CBD oil, you need to measure out the desired amount with the dropper, place it beneath the tongue, and wait for around 60 seconds until it absorbs through the tiny blood vessels in your mouth. The effects of CBD oil take hold relatively fast, usually within 15–30 minutes, lasting up to 6 hours.
CBD Pills for Eczema
Just like any supplement out there, CBD has an encapsulated form that you can easily take on the go. CBD capsules are sold as either traditional pills or soft gel capsules. Each capsule contains a fixed dose of CBD, so there’s no guesswork involved in dosing.
Some people choose CBD capsules over oils for another reason: convenience. It’s easier to take a pill in public than to take out a dropper, squeeze it, and then place something oily under the tongue when everyone’s watching.
A potential downside of taking capsules is lower bioavailability and delayed onset. Since capsules are metabolized in the liver, it may take anywhere between 40–90 minutes for CBD to enter your system. On its way, CBD loses some of its potency, so you’re not getting the most out of your dose. On the other hand, the effects last longer than with oils, up to 10 hours.
CBD Vapes for Eczema
CBD vapes include vape pens and E-liquids that are designed for inhalation. When taken this way, the CBD travels to the bloodstream using the tissues in your lungs. This enables it to avoid the first-pass metabolism in the liver, providing fast symptom relief. Vaporized CBD usually kicks in within a few minutes after inhaling the vapor. Vapes also deliver the highest concentrations of CBD to your system; their bioavailability has been measured at 56%, compared to 35% provided by oils and up to 20% in capsules. However, the effects are short-lived, lasting 3-4 hours.
Interestingly, more and more people are praising CBD vapes for their effectiveness in easing the symptoms of eczema. For example, one mom from Scotland says she has been able to heal from her post-pregnancy eczema using CBD oil in a vape pen. Cheryl Halliburton claims she’s gone from cracked and sore skin that required hospitalization to being symptom-free within weeks.
What Else Can I Do to Help My Eczema?
Needless to say, CBD is only part of a successful anti-eczema routine. We suggest that you also take care of daily exercises because it’s a great way to reduce stress and improve blood flow to the skin. Dissipating stress hormones is essential to help your body help with daily peer pressure.
In addition to that, we recommend removing processed foods from your diet, especially sugar, mass-produced cereals, kinds of pasta, and bread. Consult a holistic clinical dietician and ask them about a keto or paleo type diet where good fats and nutrient-dense food replaces processed meals that sap vitality from you. Make sure to include some fermented food, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, or yogurt in your routine.
Fermented food supports a healthy gut microbiome, which is extremely important for cleansing your body out of toxins. Otherwise, your body will try to push them out through your skin, which can also contribute to eczema or other skin irritation.
In fact, the gut is the key to so many health concerns, so make sure to take good care of it. Nutritious food, fermented products, and high-quality probiotic supplements are very useful for your gut health.
If you can correlate your eczema with any particular allergy, it’s best to avoid exposure to the allergen.
Also, look for organic cosmetics, toothpaste, soaps, and shampoos that do not contain sodium lauryl sulfate or parabens, the two popular skin irritants. Such products can be found at health food stores.
Final Verdict: Does CBD Oil Relieve Eczema?
CBD oil and other products offer some welcome relief for people with eczema. CBD itself is known to have potent anti-inflammatory, painkilling, anti-itch, and antimicrobial properties, all of which can improve your skin’s health and ease the symptoms of eczema. Some people even report full remission after taking CBD oil for several weeks.
Considering adding a CBD oil or topical to your skincare routine? Make sure to consult a dermatologist who will be experienced enough in the niche to provide you with relevant advice on how to use CBD for eczema for the greatest benefit — and to avoid potential interactions with the medications you might be taking.
Do you take CBD oil for eczema? What else do you use to manage the condition? Share your tips in the comments section below!
- Burstein, Sumner. “Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogs: a review of their effects on inflammation.” Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry vol. 23,7 (2015): 1377-85. doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2015.01.059
- Nagarkatti, Prakash et al. “Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs.” Future medicinal chemistry vol. 1,7 (2009): 1333-49. doi:10.4155/fmc.09.93
- Mounessa, J.S. et al. “The role of cannabinoids in dermatology.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, vol 77,1 (2017): 188-190.
- Appendino, Giovanni et al. “Antibacterial cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: a structure-activity study.” Journal of natural products vol. 71,8 (2008): 1427-30. doi:10.1021/np8002673
- Russo, Ethan B. “Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain.” Therapeutics and clinical risk management vol. 4,1 (2008): 245-59. doi:10.2147/tcrm.s1928