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CBD for Eczema: Does It Help?

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition characterised by itchy, dry, cracked and sore skin. It tends to affect children, but can persist into adulthood, with approximately 1.5 million (3%) of adults having atopic dermatitis in the UK. Its exact cause is not fully understood, but it is believed to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. What we do know is that atopic eczema often occurs in people who get allergies, and it can run in families. The symptoms of atopic eczema often have certain triggers, such as soap, detergent, stress and temperature changes.

While there is no cure for eczema, there are treatments available to manage its symptoms, including emollients (moisturising treatments) and topical corticosteroids (steroids). While these treatments can be effective, there is growing interest in the potential of CBD (Cannabidiol) as a natural alternative to control and manage eczema symptoms. 

What is CBD? 

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is one of the many compounds found in the cannabis plant. Unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is a non-psychoactive compound and does not induce the “high” often associated with cannabis. Instead, CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) to regulate several of our cognitive and physical functions, including inflammation and pain response. 

CBD is different to hemp seed oil, which is created from the seeds of the cannabis plant, but does not contain cannabinoids (the compounds that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system). That said, hemp seed oil is rich in fatty acids and other nutrients, which have also been shown to be beneficial in treating skin conditions, including eczema and dermatitis.

cbd diagram

Can CBD Help Eczema?  

In the context of eczema, CBD’s anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain-relieving) and skin-soothing properties are of particular interest, with emerging research suggesting that CBD may help to reduce skin irritation and itchiness. CBD’s anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing)  properties could also help to alleviate stress, reducing the frequency of eczema outbreaks from the emotional trigger. Let’s look at this in more detail. 

Inflammation 

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition where a trigger turns on your immune system and sets off inflammation in your skin, even when there is no threat. As a result, people with eczema have a high number of the proinflammatory protein, cytokines. Clinical studies have confirmed that CBD reduces the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which means it has anti-inflammatory properties that can help regulate the body’s inflammatory response

In a 2018 study, CBD was shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties in an experimental, allergic contact dermatitis model. 

In an anecdotal 2019 study, participants applied topical CBD-enriched ointment to their affected skin twice daily for 3 months. After the 3-month period, participants saw improvement in their inflammatory skin symptoms.

In another 2020 study, participants with self-reported eczema used topical CBD gel, with 67% of subjects reporting a decrease in itch and 50% of participants reporting that their eczema improved by more than 60%.

Itching

Chronic pruritus (itching) can be a debilitating condition that often accompanies eczema, but studies have shown that CBD could help. 

In one trial on patients with pruritus (itching), there was an 86.4% reduction in itch after using a cannabidiol cream, with no adverse side effects observed.

In a more recent 2020 study, researchers found that experimentally induced itch was significantly reduced by peripheral administration of a synthetic CBD patch, supporting the effectiveness of CBDs to act as an antipruritic compound with potential for treating chronic itch. 

It is also thought that CBD can stimulate the secretion and recruitment of cells that are important to remove skin cell debris and to allow your skin to mature and heal.

Pain 

Eczema often causes pain due to the itching and cracking of skin. CBD has proven analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, which may help to manage this symptom.

In one observational study reporting three cases of self-initiated topical CBD use in patients with EB, all 3 patients reported faster wound healing, less blistering, and less pain due to the anti-inflammatory activity of CBD. 

In another small pilot study, three EB patients were prescribed cannabinoid-based medicine, comprising THC and CBD, and all three reported improved pain scores, reduced pruritus and decreased overall analgesic drug intake. 

In addition to this, research suggests that CBD is antimicrobial and can kill Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that commonly leads to people contracting infections with eczema, causing flare-ups.

Stress

Stress can be a trigger for eczema, because it weakens the immune system and disrupts the skin barrier function. CBD’s anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties may help alleviate stress, preventing these flare-ups.

In one study, researchers evaluated the effects of CBD treatment in 72 adults with either anxiety or sleep problems and, after 2 months, 78.1–79.2% of participants reported improvements in anxiety symptoms.

In a 2019 study, which compared the acute effects of different doses of CBD and placebo in healthy volunteers performing a simulated public speaking test (SPST) — a well-tested anxiety-inducing method — CBD significantly reduced anxiety compared to placebo.

A more recent 2022 review of studies concluded that existing literature supports the efficacy of acute CBD for improving social anxiety, without sedative or cognitive side effects.

cbd oil

As Jeremy Riggle, Ph.D. concludes, pain, itching and inflammation are all modulated by the endocannabinoid system, which plays a crucial role in skin pathogenesis and the maintenance of homeostasis. The result, in this case, is a reduction in symptoms associated with eczema.

Though a body of preclinical evidence suggests topical application of CBD may be efficacious for some skin disorders, such as eczema and other inflammatory conditions, more research is required to fully confirm its effects. 

Is CBD for Eczema Safe? 

Naturally occurring CBD is safe and well tolerated in humans (and animals), and is not associated with any negative public health effect, does not induce physical dependence, and is not associated with abuse potential. Thus, CBD is generally considered to be safe for use in treating eczema and other skin conditions.

As with any topical treatment, you should test the CBD product on a small patch of unaffected skin before applying it to larger areas. 

In addition to this, you should talk to your doctor before trying any new treatment, as it might interact with certain medications, supplements or treatments that you’re using for your eczema. 

How to Choose CBD for Eczema

If you’re considering using CBD to manage your eczema symptoms, here are some key factors to keep in mind when choosing a product.

  • Type of CBD: Broad-spectrum CBD is a great option for those who want to experience the effects of CBD without consuming THC, the psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. Some clinical reports suggest that broad or full-spectrum CBD may have a better effect due to the number of cannabinoids and other plant compounds they contain that work together, otherwise known as the entourage effect

  • Type of Product: CBD products come in various forms, such as oilstopicals, capsules, edibles, and vape pens, so you should choose a delivery method and dosage that suits your needs. For most people with eczema, topical application is the preferred route.

  • Source and Quality: Choose CBD derived from organically grown hemp, as this ensures minimal exposure to harmful chemicals. You should also look for third-party laboratory reports to verify how pure and potent your product is, and to ensure there are no contaminants.

  • Irritants: Check the product’s ingredients list for terpenes, fragrances, and other allergens, such as nuts and nut oils, that can make eczema worse.

  • Nourishing Ingredients: If you’re looking for a CBD topical for eczema, you might also want to see if it includes other nourishing and moisturising agents, such as hemp extract, shea butter, honey and coconut oil.

  • Dosage: Finding the right dose and administration method can be a trial-and-error process as results can vary significantly from person to person. Start with a low dose and gradually increase it while monitoring its effects.

  • Individual Variability: The effectiveness of CBD may vary from person to person; what works for one individual may not work for another.

Need additional help? Take our CBD Quiz for product recommendations in minutes, or read our full guides on How to Choose the Right CBD Product and The Different Types of CBD.

How to Use CBD for Eczema

To use CBD for eczema, you should:

  1. Wash the affected area with mild, unscented soap and warm water.
  2. Pat the area dry with a clean towel, being careful not to rub or irritate the skin.
  3. Massage a small amount of the CBD product to the eczema-affected area until it absorbs, and reapply as needed.

You should avoid excessive pressure and applying the product to broken skin, and always read the label for specific instructions and warnings. 

If you’re using oral CBD products, like CBD oils or gummies, measure the recommended dosage using the provided dropper or read the instructions on the label. For oils, you should place the dose under your tongue and hold for at least 60 seconds before swallowing, for optimum absorption.

person putting cbd cream on their hand

We are Purity Hemp, the UK’s #1 Online CBD provider. Backed by science, and built on the principles of traceability, transparency & trust, we are dedicated to improving the health & wellness of people around the world.

We are proud to be one of the only companies to guarantee full traceability from seed to shelf with our premium range of CBD products, tested by third-party, independent quality control analysts.

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Weight of Pet Regular Dosage Strong Dosage
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