How CBD Balm can Help Psoriasis Symptoms
Millions of people around the world have to live with psoriasis as part of their daily lives. Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease, and it is chronic in its nature. Those who suffer with psoriasis often have an overactive immune system which causes skin cells to grow faster than they should. This results in the skin becoming red, scaly and extremely painful patches of skin begin to build up. The areas of skin that are impacted by psoriasis are itchy, disruptive and quite unseemly.
Unfortunately, psoriasis is not a curable condition and the only option sufferers have is to treat the symptoms of the condition and learn how to best live with their condition. CBD balm offers a potential treatment for those suffering with psoriasis and help with inflammation and symptom management. This article will go on to identify exactly what psoriasis is, its symptoms and causes and specifically how CBD balm can offer relief that cannot be found elsewhere.
What is Psoriasis?
Those who are afflicted by the condition will have to endure a lifetime of itching. Most people with psoriasis will have to find a way to manage their symptoms for the duration of their life as it is incurable. There are medications available such as topical steroid creams and other medical creams formulated to soothe the skin and reduce irritation. While they can be effective in the short term, they are often ineffective when used over an extended period of time.
Women often have greater problems with psoriasis because of fluctuations in hormones and it is these hormones that cause flare-ups, pregnant women are particularly susceptible to flare-ups.
Psoriatic arthritis affects about 30% of psoriasis patients and is caused by inflammation. The elevated levels of inflammation cause complications such as osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems and thyroid issues. For these reasons, it is imperative that psoriasis sufferers manage their cholesterol and ensure that they are not overweight.
Certain foods can trigger psoriasis so managing your diet is vital. Eating junk foods, dairy and drinking alcohol can be a major factor in initiating flare-ups. Foods that have a lot of antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables can help fight oxidative inflammation and this is why eating fresh fruit and veg is crucial if you have psoriasis. There are also reports of there being positive effects from eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like fish such as salmon and sardines which can reduce inflammation in the body. There are also spices like turmeric which can act as an anti-inflammatory as well as oils like olive oil and coconut oil.
The mental health impact of psoriasis can be appalling, and it can damage your confidence and affect your personal relationships. Psoriasis can be embarrassing and cause insecurity, ultimately inhibiting how you live your life, which is incredibly sad. It can also have a detrimental impact on your sleeping pattern.
What are the Symptoms of Psoriasis?
The symptoms of psoriasis vary on an individual basis, but traditionally they include:
- Red skin
- Red skin patches that are covered in scales
- Cracked & dry skin
- Bleeding of the skin
- Burning itch
- Thickened nails
- Stiff and swollen joints
The red patches of psoriasis can vary from just a few small spots of scaly skin that are similar in appearance to dandruff, to extraordinarily serious outbreaks that cover the majority of the body. The arms, elbows, ankles and knees are all commonly effected.
What are the Different Types of Psoriasis?
Although most people are unaware of this, there are actually a number of different types of psoriasis, each with their own unique set of characteristics. The most prominent types of psoriasis are:
- Plaque Psoriasis – This is the most common form of psoriasis. This is characterised by dry, red lesions covering the skin. They may range from being few in number, to plentiful and they may be tender or itchy (maybe even both, if you’re unlucky). They can most often be found on the scalp, elbows, lower back and knees.
- Pustular Psoriasis – This is one of the least common varieties of psoriasis. Pustular psoriasis can occur both in smaller patches and widespread patches. The lesions are filled with pus and look similar to blisters. They frequently occur on the soles of the feet, or the palms of the hands.
- Inverse Psoriasis – Inverse psoriasis causes smoother patches of red skin than other types of psoriasis, however these are aggravated but sweating and friction. These patches usually occur near the breasts, bottom and groin. Inverse psoriasis can also be triggered by fungal infections.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis – This is the rarest variety of psoriasis. That said, it is undoubtedly one of the most severe and debilitating variants. Erythrodermic psoriasis has the potential to cover the entire body with a serious red rash that causes intense burning and itching.
- Nail Psoriasis – Nail psoriasis, unsurprisingly, affects both the fingernails and toenails. Not only can it cause discolouration and abnormal growth, but it can also cause nails to loosen, separate and even crumble. This is known as onycholysis.
- Guttate Psoriasis – Guttate psoriasis is most common in children and teenagers. It is characterised by small scaly patches of skin, shaped like teardrops and most commonly found on the arms and legs. It is generally triggered by bacterial infection.
- Psoriatic Arthritis – Similar to typical arthritis, psoriatic arthritis causes painful swelling in joints. Over time, it causes increasingly severe damage to joints and in the most extreme instances, this damage can be permanent.
What are the Causes of Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an immune system disorder and triggers the skin to regenerate at too fast a rate. In plaque psoriasis, the excessive speed of skin regeneration causes red, scaly skin. What causes the immune system to react in this manner is not clear. However, psoriasis is definitively not contagious. It is believed that both genetic and environmental factors play apart in psoriasis developing.
Triggers of psoriasis are a huge issue as they can take weeks to recover from. Many people who are predisposed to psoriasis have no symptoms until an environmental factor triggers the condition.
Some common causes of psoriasis are:
- Skin injury such as a bug bite or severe scratch
- Weather, particularly dry, cold conditions
- Heavy drinking
- Withdrawal from corticosteroids
- Exposure to smoke
- Prescription medications like lithium, antimalarial drugs and high blood pressure medications
Risks for Psoriasis
Anybody can develop psoriasis, although there are several risk factors:
- Family History – It is a genetic disease, so one or more parents with psoriasis would increase the likelihood that you will get it.
- Smoking – Numerous studies have found links between smoking and the onset of psoriasis. It can also increase the seriousness of the disease if you do already have it.
- Stress – High levels of stress can not only reduce the efficacy of your immune system, but also increase the risk of psoriasis.
Complications of psoriasis include:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Other autoimmune diseases such as IBD and celiac disease
- Heart disease
What are the Challenges of Treating Psoriasis?
Treating psoriasis is an ongoing challenge and you must stay on top of it and maintain your routine.
There are a few options.
Topicals – non-medicated moisturising products for the skin can reduce the dryness and soothe the affected skin from psoriatic plaques.
Medicated topicals, such as CBD balm, are widely available and applying them directly to the psoriatic skin can reduce skin turnover and inflammation. Some common active ingredients in these creams and ointments are coal tar, corticosteroids, dithranol and retinoids.
Systemic Agents – they can work against psoriasis that resists both topical treatment and phototherapy, that is a medication which is a pill or injection. Only those with regular blood and liver function can utilise this option and if you are pregnant, it is not advised.
The three primary systemic medications that are prescribed to treat psoriasis are cyclosporine, methotrexate and retinoids. Cyclosporine and methotrexate are immunosuppressant drugs that work by regulating the unhealthy overactive immune system. Ulcerations can be a negative side effect of using this method to treat psoriasis. Retinoids are a synthetic form of vitamin A and can speed up the skin cell shedding meaning that plaques of skin do not develop as quickly.
Can CBD Reduce the Symptoms of Psoriasis?
CBD is an immune-modulator and anti-inflammatory, this means that in theory it is a good to use if you have psoriasis. The endocannabinoid system in the body is a naturally occurring network of cannabinoid receptors that regulates homeostasis which is what keeps the human body in balance.
One study illustrates the role of cannabinoids in supressing inflammation and excessive growth in the skin’s epithelial layer. The research indicates that human skin contains a functional endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids act to reduce inflammation. CBD is supported by scientific evidence as a treatment for psoriasis. CBD balm in particular is extremely effective as it acts far quicker than any alternative CBD product. This is because you are applying the CBD directly on to the effected area.
How Does CBD Alleviate the Symptoms of Psoriasis?
Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis arise when the balance within the body is disrupted, and the endocannabinoid system plays an integral role in homeostasis. The CB1 & CB2 receptors are the two common receptors in the endocannabinoid system. The CB1 receptors are found throughout the body but CB2 receptors are mainly found in the immune system. Both endocannabinoids that are created within the body and phytocannabinoids such as CBD can bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD are the most common phytocannabinoids. THC is the cannabinoid that causes those who consume it to get high and experience psychological effects.
CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory and as a result can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions. THC is an immunosuppressive and reduce cytokines. Cytokines are a cause of inflammation and rapid skin cell development and psoriasis is an immunosuppressive disorder. Cannabinoids, in particular THC, could be of great help to those who suffer with psoriasis.
A study found that cannabinoids inhibit patient’s psoriasis legions from growing as quickly. The manner in which the endocannabinoid system moderates interactions between the central nervous system and the immune system suggests that cannabinoids can be a treatment for psoriasis. A range of studies suggest that cannabinoid treatments could be used to treat skin conditions like eczema and acne.
Should I use CBD Balm or CBD Oil to Treat Psoriasis?
There is undoubtedly a dizzying array of CBD delivery methods available to the consumer, from CBD patches, to CBD vape oil. The two most popular choices of treatment for psoriasis however, are undoubtedly CBD balm and CBD oil.
The instances in which you would opt for CBD balm or CBD oil is really dependent on the location of your outbreaks. As we now know, psoriasis breakouts can be caused by a wide range of triggers, dependent on the type of psoriasis that you are dealing with.
As is well known, the skin on our face is far more sensitive than other areas of the body and is also more susceptible to acne. If you are suffering with psoriasis on the face, it may be safer to opt for CBD oil over CBD balm. Similarly, it is impractical to apply CBD balm to the scalp, if this happens to be the affected area.
Aside from the above, it is widely accepted that applying CBD balm locally is more effective than taking CBD sublingually, or orally in oil or capsule form. This is because the CBD will immediately get to work on the area local to application, as well as providing an instant, soothing sensation.
It may also be worth combining CBD products. While CBD balm is more effective at treating topical conditions such as psoriasis, CBD vapes or CBD oils could be used simultaneously in order to tackle the root of the issue.
As examined earlier in the article, we know that there are a wide variety of triggers that can cause flare ups, such as stress and difficulties with the immune system. CBD vapes, or CBD oils would allow more CBD to enter your internal endocannabinoid system and combat these causes more effectively than a topical product. This is more of a preventative approach but when combined with something like CBD balm, this is where CBD’s full effects can be unleased.
Ultimately, there is no right answer to this question. It all depends on the circumstances of your own psoriasis, the particular triggers for your flare ups and the areas in which you are affected.
Research implies that CBD skincare products, such as CBD balm, hold great promise for psoriasis sufferers and many people with similar skin conditions. Its efficacy could also be enhanced by using a topical CBD product in conjunction with an oral, or sublingual CBD product.
CBD is an option that is certainly worth considering if you have severe skin problems and while it may not be a solution, it may be able to ease your symptoms.
On a final note, it is always important to ensure you speak to your doctor or GP prior to starting CBD treatment for psoriasis, or any condition for that matter.
To ensure you are receiving a high-quality product, we recommend that you request an independent third party lab report from the CBD vendor of your choice. This is a document produced by an independent laboratory that confirms the exact ingredients of the product that you wish to purchase. If you wish to buy CBD balm from Cannacares, we can provide you with this documentation.
How Does CBD Oil Work for Psoriatic Arthritis?
Lindsay Curtis is a health writer with over 20 years of experience in writing health, science & wellness-focused articles.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Meredith Bull, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Los Angeles, California.
CBD (cannabidiol) has exploded in popularity in recent years, in large part because it has shown promise in reducing pain, alleviating anxiety, and reducing symptoms of certain health conditions.
One such condition that may benefit from CBD oil is psoriatic arthritis (PsA), a chronic (long-term) disease affecting the joints. While there is no cure for the condition, some people are turning to CBD to manage the symptoms of the disease.
Here are a few things to know if you want to try using CBD to treat the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.
What Is CBD Oil?
Cannabis plants contain chemicals called cannabinoids. The two major cannabinoids are:
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which makes a person feel “high”
- Cannabidiol (CBD), which has no psychoactive effects but can provide a number of therapeutic benefits
Both CBD and THC act on a communication system in the body known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex biological system that affects appetite, fertility, sleep, mood, and memory. The ECS is active in the body even if you do not use cannabis.
CBD isolate is the purest form on the market. It contains 99% CBD, with no other additives or chemicals from the cannabis plant from which it is derived.
CBD binds to and activates receptors in the brain that create a therapeutic effect in the body, which allows users to get relief from symptoms without feeling impaired.
Types of Arthritis
Arthritis is a term to describe conditions that affect the joints and surrounding tissues. Though there are over 100 types of arthritis, they all cause inflammation and swelling in one or more joints.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an autoimmune disease that causes an overactive immune system to attack normal cells and tissues in the joints. PsA affects some people who have psoriasis—a skin condition that causes the formation of itchy red patches topped with silvery scales.
PsA typically is diagnosed after psoriasis. PsA can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints and surrounding tissues. An estimated 2.25 million Americans have psoriatic arthritis.
PsA most commonly affects joints in the arms and legs, including the elbows, wrists, hands, and feet. It can also impact the spine, hips, and shoulders, though this is less common.
There are several types of psoriatic arthritis, which are categorized by the joints they affect.
The five types of psoriatic arthritis are:
- Distal interphalangeal predominant, which affects the end joints of the fingers and toes and can cause nail changes (such as pitting, spotting, and separation from the nail bed)
- Asymmetric oligoarticular, which affects fewer than five joints in the body and typically occurs on one side of the body
- Symmetric polyarthritis, the most common type of PsA, affecting five or more joints on both sides of the body
- Spondylitis, which involves inflammation of the spinal column and can cause neck pain, stiffness in the lower back, and limited mobility
- Arthritis mutilans, a severe type of PsA that can wear down, destroy, and deform joints in the fingers, hands, wrists, and feet
CBD and PsA Symptoms
Stress can cause psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to flare up. People with PsA may find CBD helps reduce anxiety and prevent flares in addition to decreasing pain and inflammation in the joints.
CBD for Psoriasis Symptoms
Approximately one in four people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis. Some will develop symptoms of PsA slowly over time, and others will experience the onset of severe symptoms quickly.
Some common symptoms of PsA include:
- Swollen fingers and toes
- Stiffness, pain, throbbing, swelling, and tenderness in affected joints
- Pain, tenderness, and swelling in tendons (flexible fibrous tissue connecting muscle to bone)
- Nail changes (like pitting and separation from nail bed)
- Redness and pain in one or both eyes
- Limited range of motion
- Morning stiffness
- Anxiety and depression
CBD is being studied as a treatment for many conditions, including psoriatic arthritis, but research supporting its effectiveness is still limited. There is research demonstrating that CBD can effectively manage and reduce pain, however, so it might help some people with PsA.
CBD cannot cure conditions like psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, but research has shown that it might help some people cope with their symptoms by decreasing pain sensation, inflammation, and the anxiety that a person might experience related to the condition.
A review of 49 studies found that CBD may help with generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder. A 2019 study found that 80% of participants had reduced anxiety after a month of taking CBD.
What Triggers Flares?
Psoriasis can be triggered by certain factors in a person’s environment or even conditions within their own body, such as illness, foods, and medications.
Some common psoriasis triggers include:
- Allergies (such as those to certain foods, alcohol, or environmental conditions)
- Medication interactions
- Skin trauma/injury
- Smoking (dry and cold weather, in particular)
Some people are genetically predisposed to developing psoriatic arthritis, and approximately one in three people with psoriasis will develop PsA.
Are There Any Side Effects?
CBD is generally well-tolerated but can cause some side effects, particularly when taken in large amounts.
Possible side effects of CBD include:
- Dry mouth
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Reduced appetite
Best CBD for Managing Psoriasis Pain
There is limited research into CBD’s effectiveness at treating psoriasis, but its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties are well documented. Anecdotally, some people have found that CBD helps them manage their psoriasis symptoms.
Types of CDB
There are three basic types of CBD:
Verywell / Michela Buttignol
- Full-spectrum CBD contains all the natural components found in cannabis plants (and hemp plants), including terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids as well as cannabinoids. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains trace amounts of THC. When these plant compounds interact with the body, they help a user obtain the desired therapeutic benefits.
- Broad-spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum CBD but with all traces of THC removed. Users will not experience any mind-altering effects.
- CBD isolates are produced by using a detailed extraction and purification process of the cannabis/hemp plant. All other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are removed to create a 99% pure CBD.
There is not enough research to determine which form of CBD is best for treating psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. You might want to try different forms and types to determine which works best for you.
Products and Delivery Methods
There are many different ways to use CBD, which means that you can tailor it to your preferences and needs. Examples of CBD products that are available include:
- Topicals (lotions, rubs, and creams)
- Tinctures (alcohol-based extracts)
- Edibles (like gummies)
- Capsules and pills
- Vaping products (oil)
How Much to Use
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved CBD for treating epilepsy. As a result, there is no standard dosage of CBD for treating psoriasis.
Follow the recommended usage guidelines on the products that you are using. You may want to slowly increase the amount that you use until you feel that you’ve reached the right dosage for symptom relief.
How to Buy CBD
Although CBD is generally safe, the industry is poorly regulated. When you are looking for a product that meets your needs, there are a few key factors to consider.
CBD from reputable companies should have information about the product on the label, including:
- Amount of CBD per serving
- Suggested use and dosage
- Whether it is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate
- List of ingredients
- Manufacturer and distributor name
In addition to checking the labels, make sure that you:
- Avoid products that make sweeping, definitive health claims (like promises to ‘”cure”).
- Look for companies that provide third-party testing results of their products.
- Check customer reviews for products since testimonials from users can tell you a lot about a product.
Before you try a CBD product, ask your doctor if it could interact with any over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications or supplements that you take.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to feel the effects of CBD for PsA?
The type of CBD that you use will determine how long it will take to feel the effects. It generally takes 15 minutes to feel the effects after vaping or using sublingual tinctures (those placed under the tongue). Ingesting CBD oil or gummies will take longer (up to two hours). Topicals may take up to an hour for effects to be felt, and they peak around 90 minutes after application.
How much CBD oil should I use for psoriatic arthritis pain?
The FDA has not released an official dosage guide for specific conditions, but many people with psoriatic arthritis report taking around 20–40 milligrams per day. Some people take higher doses during a flare-up.
Is full-spectrum CBD better for psoriasis than isolates?
Research suggests that full-spectrum CBD has more obvious health benefits than isolates. Isolates are generally better for people who have negative reactions to other cannabinoids found in full-spectrum CBD.
A Word From Verywell
Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are painful, chronic conditions that can cause stress and anxiety. CBD is an alternative treatment that may help reduce pain and inflammation and relieve anxiety related to PsA.
Talk to your doctor before trying CBD. A physician might be able to recommend specific products and dosages that can help manage your psoriatic arthritis symptoms.