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CBD: a therapeutic interest against eczema and psoriasis?

Due to the inflammatory origin of their pathology, eczema sufferers can benefit from the soothing and anti-inflammatory effect of cannabidiol (CBD) to relieve their symptoms and improve their quality of life. In this article, the 321CBD editorial staff proposes a concise literature review on the therapeutic interest of CBD in patients suffering from pruritic dermatoses.

What is eczema?

Redness surmounted by vesicles, intense itching, pruritus, appearance of dry skin crusts, scales, irritation, loss of hair, change in pigmentation... the symptoms of eczema are known to everyone, and for good reason: it is This is the third most common chronic skin disease in France, affecting one in three French people (after acne and fungal infections). In France, eczema motivates up to 30% of dermatology consultations. And according to recent estimates, the incidence of eczema has doubled or even tripled since the beginning of the 1990s.

Although it mainly affects babies and children, the characteristic inflammation of eczema can appear in adulthood. The disease is characterized by relatively long phases of remission, interspersed with more or less significant outbreaks. This pruritic dermatosis is not contagious.

How often with diseases of inflammatory origin, the mechanism of eczema is not yet well understood by science. The genetic factor is preferred, but environmental factors seem to come into play. The latest studies suspect prolonged and repeated exposure to allergens, in particular chemical irritants, as well as a situation of chronic stress and/or anxiety. Eczema can take four different forms:

  • Acute eczema, which begins with poorly limited redness before progressing to formation of vesicles and then scabs;
  • Chronic eczema, which can take a dry form, a lichenified form or even a dyshidrotic;
  • Atopic dermatitis, which mainly occurs in patients with asthma, allergic rhinitis and /or allergic conjunctivitis.

cbd eczema

Eczema and psoriasis: what's the difference?

Like eczema, psoriasis is a common skin condition that affects millions of French people. It is an autoimmune disease that dries out the skin and causes less intense itching than eczema. Let's analyze in the following table the differences between these two pathologies that often lead to confusion.

Table 1 Comparison between eczema and psoriasis.

Eczema

Psoriasis

Appearance

Red and inflamed appearance, dark patches, small raised bumps, presence of pus.

Thick red patches covered with white scales, well-defined spots, inflammation greater than that of eczema.

Location

Skin folds: inner elbow and knee area, neck, wrist, ankles.

Outer most areas of the skin: back of the elbows, front of the knees, palm of the bun, soles of the feet, genital area, scalp, umbilicus…

Itching

Intense itching, especially at night.

Mild to moderate itching.

Age of onset

Early age (6 months). Eczema fades or disappears with age.

Peak of onset in two age groups: between 20 and 30 years old, and between 50 and 60 years old.

Triggers

Chemicals contained in soaps, perfumes, detergents, animal fur, fabrics, mold, pollen, dust, etc. Stress and hormonal changes are also to blame.

Coldness or sweating.

Prognosis and Complications

Eczema usually resolves with age. The pathology generally does not affect the quality of life.

Psoriasis is lifelong and can resist treatment. This pathology would increase the risk of heart and/or kidney disease.

CBD, eczema and psoriasis: what do the scientific studies say?

As in all pathologies involving an inflammatory mechanism, CBD could contribute to the management of patients suffering from eczema or psoriasis. Its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and soothing properties make it a promising molecule. In any case, this is the conclusion that can be drawn from a few scientific studies which have attempted to assess the therapeutic value of this hemp extract in the treatment of pruritic dermatoses.

Let's start with this comment from Peter Lio, founding president of the Chicago Integrative Eczema Center and a leading figure in skin disease research: "I think topically applied CBD is a very promising treatment for the eczema. In theory, it could reduce itching, relieve pain and decrease inflammation. It may also help restore the skin barrier..

cbd psoriasis

A recent study (2019) evaluated the therapeutic value of CBD-enriched ointments in the treatment inflammatory skin diseases and wound healing:

  • Methodology: spontaneous, empirical and retrospective study of 20 patients with the two most common skin conditions : psoriasis (5 patients), atopic eczema (5) and scars resulting from skin pathologies (10). Subjects were instructed to self-administer CBD-enriched topical ointment to injured skin areas twice daily for three months of treatment.
  • Results: based on evaluation of hydration, Transepidermal Loss in Water (PIE) and elasticity, results showed that topically applied CBD significantly improved various criteria of skin "quality" while reducing symptoms of atopic eczema and psoriasis. The score of the PASI index (Psoriasis Area and Severity Index) was also improved. No irritant or allergic reactions were reported during the treatment period.
  • Conclusion: Topical administration of CBD ointment (without THC) is a non-invasive alternative and effective in improving the quality of life of patients suffering from certain skin disorders, particularly on an inflammatory background.

Another 2020 study explains that CBD has an antimicrobial effect comparable to that of certain antibiotics used against staph "aureus" infection that can occur in people with atopic dermatitis. This is a common complication that can make eczema flare-ups worse. A larger clinical study is underway to further these findings, with the use of a controlled manufacturing CBD gel in 200 patients with moderate atopic dermatitis.

Let's conclude this literature review on the interest of CBD against eczema and psoriasis with this study carried out in 2019 by Hungarian researchers. Let's go straight to the conclusion of this research work: "Research efforts over the past two decades have undoubtedly proven that cannabinoid signals profoundly influence several aspects of skin biology: endocannabinoid dysregulation is likely to contribute to the pathogenesis of several inflammatory skin diseases". CBD would thus be of interest in the skin's ability to self-regulate and restore its balance (skin homeostasis).

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