Can CBD help with eczema?

September 23, 2020

Following last week’s National Eczema Week, which saw the National Eczema Society try to “unmask” eczema, we look at CBD as a potential way to help with symptoms.

Unless you or a member of your family or friends suffers with eczema, it’s hard to understand how painful and difficult it can be to live with. That’s why, this year’s National Eczema Week focused on sharing the truth about eczema and the results of a major new survey that hopes to empower people to talk about their experiences with the long-term skin condition.

The Eczema Unmasked report saw the National Eczema Society team up with LEO Pharma. Over 1,000 people, including adults with eczema and parents of children with eczema, responded to the survey, which was conducted by the independent market research company Savanta ComRes with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the day-to-day and longer-term impacts of living with the condition.

Despite supporting people with eczema for more than 40 years, even the National Eczema Society was surprised by its findings. One devastating statistic found that 89 per cent of adult respondents said that having eczema had significantly reduced their quality of life. Three-quarters of adults also said eczema had negatively impacted their mental health, leaving them feeling depressed, anxious, helpless and socially isolated.

The survey also found that respondents felt eczema had negatively affected their education (nearly half), career (28 per cent) and romantic relationships – one in 10 adults surveyed credited it as ending a relationship. Unfortunately, the children didn’t fare much better with low self-esteem, attendance and performance issues at school and difficulty in making and maintaining friendships all commonly cited concerns by parents.

As well as empowering people to talk about eczema, the National Eczema Society hopes that the survey, which will be published in full in October 2020, will provide healthcare professionals with a better understanding of how to treat symptoms and how they can offer more effective holistic care. One of the most worrying findings from the survey was that some 40 per cent of adults and almost the same number of parents felt let down by their healthcare professionals when it comes to eczema, reflecting the lack of effective treatments.

That could be where CBD comes in…

Although there have been few studies that investigate the use of CBD to relieve eczema cases specifically, its anti-inflammatory benefits are widely known. As many existing over-the-counter eczema treatments focus on soothing irritation and inflammation, it’s been suggested that CBD, and its celebrated anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties, could be an effective solution.

A study published in Clinical Therapeutics in 2019 found that a few people with atopic dermatitis found relief from a CBD ointment, which helped to clear skin, reduce irritation and therefore encourage a better night’s sleep.

Peter Lio, MD, was appointed to the National Eczema Association Scientific & Medical Advisory Council in 2011 and is a clinical assistant professor of dermatology and paediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the founding director of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Center.

In an interview published on the National Eczema Association, he said: “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.

“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… I think that for adults who want to try a CBD topical, there’s little to lose.”

The National Eczema Association has also reported that cannabinoids could “hold promise” as a treatment for eczema due to their ability to reduce colonisation of staphylococcus bacteria – which can cause infections, painful bumps, swelling and blisters on the skin.

As with anything you apply to your skin, CBD topical products can cause reactions, so it’s important to test a small area over a few days before you apply more widely for relief from eczema or other skin conditions.

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