According to the World Health Organization (WHO), psoriasis affects more than 100 million people worldwide. And if you are one of these people, you’ll know just how hard the condition is to treat, and how much the symptoms can interfere with your daily life. Here’s how CBD can help you find relief.
What is psoriasis?
You might know of psoriasis as simply flaky skin, but this condition is actually an autoimmune disease. The immune system mistakenly identifies healthy skin cells as being foreign particles that need to be destroyed. This results in the skin cells regenerating at up to ten times the regular rate. This can happen on any part of the body, but the face, scalp, knees, elbows and lower back. There is no cure for the condition, though people may go for long periods of time without experiencing symptoms.
While the disease is not life-threatening, the symptoms of psoriasis can be painful and difficult to manage. These include:
- Itching swollen red patches of skin
- Cracking and bleeding skin
- Pain or burning in the affected areas
- Swollen and sore joints
For many people, it’s not just the physical symptoms that affect their lives. The condition often leads to issues such as poor self-esteem, depression, anxiety and even social isolation.
What causes psoriasis?
Like many autoimmune diseases, there is no particular reason why one person will develop psoriasis and another won’t – though genetics could play a factor. It’s not a communicable disease, meaning it can’t be caught from anyone else. Doctors have identified situations after which the first instance of psoriasis may occur, though these are not necessarily causes of the disease. These include strep throat and exposure to chemicals.
What we know more about, however, is what might trigger a flare-up in someone who has psoriasis. This means that symptoms may occur or worsen in the case of:
- Stress: this is one of the key triggers for symptoms, and also one of the hardest to control, as the psoriasis itself can cause stress and anxiety
- Changes in the weather: dry or cold weather, in particular, are known for worsening symptoms
- Damaged skin: this includes everything from cuts, scratches or insect bites to a bad bout of sunburn
- Drinking and smoking: Alcohol consumption and cigarette smoke have been linked to psoriasis, including exposure to second-hand smoke
Available treatment options
While psoriasis cannot be cured, there are treatment options available to help manage flare-ups and symptoms. The most common suggestion from doctors and dermatologists is the use of corticosteroids, either as a topical treatment or via injection. These are successful as they help to control the body’s inflammatory responses. However, long-term use will see a reduction in effectiveness and may even cause damage to the skin.
Other topical treatments are used to reduce the symptoms of psoriasis including pain, itching and swelling, or in some cases, reduce the rate of growth of skin cells. These include synthetic Vitamin D, coal tar and salicylic acid. These are often expensive, messy, and may have side effects such as light sensitivity.
A more radical treatment option is light therapy. This involves exposing the patient’s skin to controlled amounts of light at particular wavelengths, for example, UVB narrowband or UVA. This therapy can often be expensive and may have side effects such as blistering of the skin.
How CBD can help with psoriasis
One of the things we notice time after time with CBD is just how multi-faceted the benefits are. The fact that it doesn’t just treat one symptom or cause is what makes it an incredibly versatile and useful product to have on hand. And it’s no different when it comes to dealing with psoriasis.
Treating the symptoms
CBD can help find relief from many of the painful symptoms of psoriasis. You can tailor the application to your needs by choosing the form or dosage that best suits your symptoms.
Topical CBD such as creams and balms, or oils applied to the skin:
- Relieves pain
- Reduces inflammation
- Relieves itching
- Slows skin cell growth
Sublingual, edible or inhaled CBD including oils, gummies or flowers:
- Relieves pain
- Reduces anxiety around symptoms
- Aids sleep during flare-ups
- Slows skin cell growth
Treating the triggers
While we can’t claim that CBD is going to cure psoriasis, what it can do is deal with some of its triggers, which should lead to a decrease in flare-ups. One of the triggers that we have the best chance of controlling (as opposed, say, to the weather), is our stress levels. CBD is useful here due to its proven capacity to reduce stress and anxiety levels.
CBD can also prevent flare-ups as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. With an autoimmune disease, inflammation is the system response when it sees parts of the body (in this case, skin cells) as foreign agents. CBD reduces this inflammatory response, which in turns reduces the likelihood of CBD flare-ups.