CBD for Acne: Does it Really Work?
Throughout history, humans have used natural products to help promote smooth, healthy skin. One product that is receiving a lot of attention is cannabidiol, also known as CBD. CBD is a non-toxic compound that is extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant. Many skin products today—from skin softeners to acne treatments—contain CBD.
But is CBD really an effective treatment for your acne? To find the answer, you first need to learn more about acne.
What is Acne
Acne is a common skin issue that “pops up” when your hair follicles get clogged with dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria. While many people think of acne as an issue that affects the face, it may also appear on your forehead, back, chest, shoulders or other parts of your body. Although the condition is most prevalent among teens, it may affect children, adults and elderly people.
What Are the Symptoms of Acne?
Acne usually appears as blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples. Blackheads are clogged pores that open on the surface of your skin. Blackheads get their dark color because the oil and bacteria clogging your pores are exposed to the oxygen in the air. Whiteheads are closed clogged pores that form just below the surface of your skin and have a white appearance. Blackheads and whiteheads are called comedones.
- Blackheads – open clogged pores
- Whiteheads – closed clogged pores
- Small, tender red bumps known as papules
- Pimples – papules that contain pus
- Nodules – large solid lumps beneath the skin that usually hurt when touched
- Cystic lesions – pus-filled lumps beneath the skin that usually hurt when touched
What Causes Acne?
Each of your hair follicles has an opening called a pore. Each hair follicle is also connected to an oil (sebaceous) gland. These oil glands release oil (also called sebum) that travels up the hair shaft and through the pore to lubricate the surface of your skin. When there is a problem with this lubrication process, acne can develop.
There are four main causes of acne:
1. Hair follicles blocked by dead skin cells and oil
2. Bacteria build up
3. Excessive oil production
4. Excessive androgen activity
Your face, forehead, shoulders, chest, and back tend to have a higher concentration of oil glands, so these areas are more prone to acne. Pores that function as the openings of your sweat glands are not usually involved in the onset of acne.
What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Acne?
If you are experiencing hormonal changes due to puberty or pregnancy, you are at a higher risk of developing acne. This is because hormonal changes can cause your skin to produce excessive amounts of oil. Breakouts that are due to hormonal changes usually subside in adulthood or after pregnancy. Some medications such as birth control pills, a family history of acne, and a diet high in refined sugars or carbs may also make you more prone to acne.
How Can You Prevent Acne?
There are several steps you can take to try to prevent acne. They include:
- Washing your face regularly
- Removing excess oil from your face or body
- Avoid beauty products that contain oil
- Showering regularly
- Wearing loose clothing
- Eating a healthy diet
- Avoiding stressful situations
It is important to note that scrubbing your skin too hard or using harsh chemicals may cause acne to become worse. Also, there is no scientific connection between acne and greasy food.
Can CBD Help Treat Your Acne?
Effective acne treatment centers around reducing oil and bacteria build-up on the skin. The interest in CBD as an all-natural acne treatment is based on the belief that it can prevent excessive oil production. But is there any evidence to support this claim? Yes there is!
A 2014 study on the effect of CBD on human skin samples provided encouraging results for the use of CBD in skin care. CBD was found to limit the amount of oil produced by the skin and it also had an anti-inflammatory effect on the oil-producing glands. Both of these effects play a role in promoting healthy skin. The researchers concluded that CBD showed promise as a therapeutic agent for acne.
Does CBD Work for Body Acne?
Facial acne and body acne are caused by the same conditions and biological mechanisms. If CBD is able to help you reduce facial acne, it may be able to help you reduce body acne. A number of manufacturers produce skincare products that contain CBD. These products include body washes, bars of soap, oils, creams, and moisturizers.
Can CBD Help with Acne Scars?
Scars are one of the most frustrating features of acne. Acne scars may form if pimples become enlarged or if they are picked or squeezed. However, CBD oil may be able to help people with acne scars. A 2019 study showed that the application of a CBD ointment to acne scars helped to improve the skin’s elasticity, hydration, and appearance.
Can CBD Treat Other Skin Problems?
CBD may help with the treatment of other negative skin conditions. A 2013 study showed CBD may help to reduce excessive skin cell growth—a hallmark of psoriasis. CBD may also be used in the treatment of itchy skin. A 2005 study found that 81% of patients with dry itchy skin found relief after using a CBD cream twice daily for three weeks.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Using CBD?
CBD is non-toxic and safe for ingestion as well as topical application. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
The most common side effects of using CBD are diarrhea, changes in appetite, and tiredness. However, these side effects were experienced primarily by individuals who ingested CBD. People who used CBD topically did not report similar concerns.
Although CBD has a favorable safety profile, you may experience a negative reaction if you are allergic to CBD. If you experience skin peeling, itching, rashes, or swelling after using a CBD product, it is recommended that you wash the affected area with soap and water and discontinue use of the product.