Cannabinoids may soothe eczema, psoriasis, other skin diseases, study finds

AURORA, Colo. — Individuals with skin diseases may be able to find relief with the use of non-psychotropic topical cannabinoids. A new study finds that the cannabis-based creams may be helpful in treating a wide range of skin illness, including psoriasis, eczema, atopic and contact dermatitis, inflammatory skin disease, and skin cancer.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus reviewed the current literature on treating skin disease with topical cannabinoids and concluded that cannabinoids’ anti-inflammatory properties may help to reduce patients’ dry skin and itching.

Cannabis plant, marijuana
A new study finds that cannabinoids may help help soothe eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.

In one of the studies included, eight out of 21 patients using a cannabinoid cream on their skin twice daily for three weeks experienced the complete elimination of pruritus (severe itching).

“Perhaps the most promising role for cannabinoids is in the treatment of itch,” the study’s senior author Dr. Robert Dellavalle, M.D., associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, says in a press release. “These are topical cannabinoid drugs with little or no psychotropic effect that can be used for skin disease.”

The study abstract explains that 28 U.S. states run comprehensive medical cannabis programs and that almost one in 10 adult users have medical reasons for cannabis use. Cannabis is also currently being studied for the treatment of nausea, spasticity, chronic pain, anorexia and other ailments. Dellavalle stated that THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the active ingredient in marijuana, has reduced swelling, inflammation and even tumor growth in mice. Large-scale clinical trials have not yet occurred.

“These diseases cause a lot of problems for people and have a direct impact on their quality of life,” Dellavalle says of treating skin ailments with cannabinoids. “The treatments are currently being bought over the internet and we need to educate dermatologists and patients about the potential uses of them.”

These findings were published in “The role of cannabinoids in dermatology” in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.