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About 30 million Americans, almost 10 percent of the population, suffer from some type of eczema. That’s up to 3 adults and 10 to 20 children out of every 100 people in the US. The dry, itchy, flaky skin conditions, also known as atopic dermatitis, can be embarrassing at best and painful and disfiguring at its worst. The causes of eczema flare ups are largely unknown. Therefore, it can be difficult to treat.
Early medical studies show CBD oil can improve and in some cases eliminate eczema. A study found in the FASEB Journal by scientists in the United Kingdom, Hungary, and Germany, discovered our own bodies’ endocannabinoid systems play an important role in keeping our skin healthy. When plant-based cannabinoids like CBD oil are applied, they may activate the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors. This could be a welcome breakthrough for those who struggle with eczema.
Eczema is several types of skin conditions caused by the skin reacting to internal or external allergens. The most common type of eczema is called atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis means an allergy that is inherited or a family condition; dermatitis simply means inflammation of the skin. It comes in a variety of forms, from patches of skin that are itchy and red to more severe patches that crack and ooze.
Other types of eczema include:
Contact dermatitis occurs when skin touches something it is allergic to, and is often caused by things like fabric softeners, laundry detergents, some shampoos, weed killers, and other chemicals. The skin reacts by forming a rash that sometimes blisters, hives, or red and itchy skin.
Discoid eczema looks like round or coin-shaped patches that typically appear on forearms, the torso, and the bottom part of the legs. The reasons why people get discoid eczema are not known fully, but may be related to insect bites, cold climate, bacterial infections, and certain medications.
Like its name implies, varicose eczema is associated with varicose veins and usually occurs in seniors. It includes hot, itchy spots and weepy, crusty patches that may crack thinner, weaker skin open.
Dyshidrotic eczema usually occurs in people under 40 years old. Breakouts commonly occur on the hands and feet and forms little, itchy blisters that tend to go away after a few weeks, leaving dry, cracked skin. This type of eczema may be caused by fungal skin infections or emotional stress, and also often strikes those who work with their hands frequently immersed in water.
Asteatotic eczema is most common in people ages 60 and older and includes pink or red cracking of the skin. It may be caused by things that dry the skin, such as hot baths, too much exposure to soaps, rough towel drying, and scrubbing the skin too vigorously.
Seborrheic dermatitis is one of the most common forms of eczema and produces a red, itchy, flaky rash that sometimes forms a white or yellowish crust. It can be found on the ears, eyebrows, genitals, scalp, face, armpits, eyelids, and the upper back and chest. People of all ages suffer from this type of dermatitis, including infants with cradle cap. Flare ups are common in adults ages 30 to 60, especially those who already have epilepsy, HIV, depression, and other medical and mental health conditions.
Eczema can be embarrassing. It can cause those who suffer from it to lose sleep because of the intense itching and pain. It can cause stress and keep people from participating in fun activities where their skin might be seen by others. Some give up swimming because of both shame and the fact that water can dry out the skin, making the flare ups worse. Eczema causes great frustration and can lead to missed days of work and school. Because the causes of eczema are not fully known and there is no definitive cure, those who suffer with it may experience depression.
According to Professor Tamas Biró, department chair of Immunology at the University of Debrecen in Hungary and one of the scientists involved in the early study of CBD, the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD provide something essential in treating various skin conditions, including the different types of eczema. Biró and the other scientists took cultures of cells from human sebaceous glands which produce the oil we find on our skin and put different concentrations of endocannabinoids on the cultures. They then looked for the production of lipids and measured how long the cells survived. They also measured other factors and compared the results to a group of cultures that were not exposed to endocannabinoids.
The professors’ cell model research showed that CBD inhibited the body’s production of sebum, which makes for oily skin. It also helped calm sebaceous gland cells that were overactive. These two results show great promise for eczema sufferers.
“Our preclinical data encourage one to explore whether endocannabinoid system-acting agents can be exploited in the management of common skin disorders,” Dr. Biró said. “It is also suggested that these agents can be efficiently applied locally to the skin in the form of a cream.”
In addition to the fact that hemp-based CBD binds to our bodies’ natural endocannabinoid receptors, it also contains fatty acids and antioxidants, both of which are known to promote healthy skin and skin repair. Although medical trials are still in the early stages due to former legal restrictions on cannabis, several early studies show just how helpful CBD oil is in treating eczema.
CBD oil calms the side effects of eczema flare ups. Cannabinoids are proven to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. That means when CBD is applied to patches of the dry, itchy, flaky or oozing skin, it calms the swelling. It is reported by many to powerfully combat the itchiness.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that 60 percent of patients with atopic dermatitis that were treated with CBD oil reported less loss of sleep and a reduction of itchiness. About one-third of those in the trial stopped using their other medications such as oral antihistamines and topical steroids by the end of the trial. CBD oil, whether ingested under the tongue or applied topically in cream or oil form shows exciting promise for those who suffer from eczema and other skin conditions.
However, until products are regulated and more data is gathered, users should use caution when choosing CBD products. Examine the ingredients, ask about third-party testing, and know exactly what you are getting before you apply CBD.
Disclaimer: This article provides information that has not been evaluated or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is not medical advice. If you plan to make any changes to your diet or lifestyle, we recommend that you first consult your doctor or other health care provider.
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