Can CBD Be Used Topically?

Last updated:

Until recently, most people associated smoking with cannabis. However, cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is now emerging as a powerful component of the marijuana or hemp plant. CBD oil doesn’t have to be inhaled to exert medicinal benefits. It can be used topically to treat a wide range of health conditions.

How Topical CBD Works

The skin is more than a container for your internal organs. It is an extensive organ that contains hair follicles, sweat glands and sebaceous glands. It protects the inside of your body from environmental toxins, and it shares some responsibility for controlling immunity, hormones and inflammation.

Researchers are finding that a functional endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is present in the skin. The ECS helps balance the survival and growth of skin cells. When it’s disrupted, skin diseases, including hair growth disorders and cancer, may develop.

CBD acts on the ECS. When it interacts with certain receptors, it produces favorable effects. Taking CBD internally allows it to circulate in the bloodstream and work on internal CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Experts used to believe that using CBD topically didn’t put enough of it into the bloodstream to be effective. Now, they’re realizing that it exerts its actions directly on the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the skin, optimizing skin health. In other words, slathering on CBD cream or lotion acts directly on the body’s largest organ.



Treating Skin and Hair Conditions

This makes it an ideal ingredient to include in skin creams and ointments. Plus, CBD is known to reduce swelling in the body. Many skin conditions, including eczema, rosacea, dermatitis and psoriasis are caused by inflammation.

In addition, cannabinoids help regulate hair follicles and oil glands. No clinical studies indicate that CBD grows hair or keeps greasy skin under control. However, adding it to your beauty regimen might not hurt.

Treating Sunburn

Have you ever had a nasty sunburn? Sunburns are caused by overexposure to UVB rays. You might notice that sunburned skin seems puffy. That’s because it’s inflamed.

Cool water and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can help relieve the inflammation caused by a sunburn. Topical CBD oil can also do the trick. It reduces inflammation, coats the skin with antioxidants and reduces the likelihood of infection.

Topical CBD for Skin Cancer

Skin cancer forms when damaged cells proliferate on the skin. Many studies show that CBD oil helps kill cancer cells. There is not enough research on topical cannabidiol to show that using it on the skin can help cure melanoma.

However, many people have shared anecdotes online that indicate that they’ve successfully treated melanoma with topical CBD. Again, the compound has been deemed to be safe, and it enhances skin health in general. Therefore, it may be worth considering if you’re suffering from skin cancer.

Preventing the Signs of Aging

UVA rays don’t cause sunburn, but they do damage the skin. These are the rays that are responsible for wrinkles and age spots. One of the reasons that UV rays age the skin is that they set off oxidative processes in skin cells. Using topical antioxidants, such as CBD, has been shown to reduce the telltale signs of photo-induced aging.

Relieving Pain with CBD Products

When taken orally or inhaled, CBD oil can reduce pain. Researchers have also demonstrated that topical CBD can have similar effects.

In one animal study, scientists used a topical gel to reduce inflammation and pain-driven behavior. Another report indicated that many people use transdermal patches and lotions containing CBD for pain. Most of the literature that looks at treating physical discomfort with CBD evaluates oral dosages, but topical CBD may cause fewer side effects.