Eczema, which also goes by the name dermatitis, is a skin condition featuring many uncomfortable symptoms. These include dry and scaly skin, itching and sores. Because these are visible, people might experience low self confidence or even anxiety.

Eczema on a small child. Photo: NIAid

Eczema on a small child. Photo: NIAid

Eczema’s precise causes are unknown. It is, however, believed to result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. It can be triggered by things like allergens (eg dust, mites and pollen), certain foods (including dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds and soy products), colder weather, hormones, irritants (eg detergents, shampoos and soap), microbes and stress. When it comes to irritants, minimise risk by opting for unscented and undyed brands. Even essential oils might be problematic.

Eczema tends to run in families. Per the American Academy of Dermatology, 60% of sufferers develop it in their first year on this Earth. But it can arise at any age. In the United Kingdom, 11-20% of children and 5-10% of adults are affected by it. There’s no cure, so treatments aim to alleviate symptoms. These include antibiotics, antihistamines and corticosteroid creams. Or you could try CBD, which is growing in popularity for eczema. Other treatments often have unwanted side effects, but CBD produces few, which most people don’t even notice.

Listen to these doctors

Peter Lio, MD, is clinical assistant professor of dermatology and paediatrics at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University in Illinois and founding director of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Center. He called CBD “a very promising treatment for eczema”. He highlighted the fame of CBD for its anti-inflammatory, anti-itching and anti-pain properties. These make it “extremely attractive as a medicinal compound, particularly in dermatology.” Dr. Henry Granger Piffard, M.D., founded the Journal of Cutaneous and Venereal Diseases. He also wrote the first textbook of dermatologic therapeutics. In it is the statement that one pill of cannabis indica at bedtime “sometimes afforded relief to the intolerable itching of eczema.”

There’s not much in the way of studies, but CBD looks good

There have been very few studies to support the benefits of CBD for eczema. One small one appeared in the journal Clinical Therapeutics in 2019. It found that CBD cream clears the skin and reduces itching and the sleep loss it often causes. Sleep loss is one of the major problems arising from eczema. People are often unable to fall asleep or awake in the middle of the night due to itching. More research showed CBD to work about as well as antibiotics in killing Staphylococcus aureus, by far the most common bacterium present in the skin of eczema sufferers.

“There’s little to lose”

Dr Lio declared, “I think that for adults who want to try a CBD topical, there’s little to lose.” He has many patients who report that they benefit from taking CBD for eczema. As with anything you put on your skin, CBD might elicit a reaction, so test it on a small area for a few days at first.

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