What is eczema?
Eczema is the name given to a related group of disorders of the skin. It is very commonly experienced by children. Experts believe that 1 in 10 people are likely to experience eczema of some kind during the course of their lifetime.
Signs and symptoms of eczema
Eczema presents as a highly itchy and very painful recurring rash characterized by inflammation, swelling, extreme dryness, scaling of the skin and crusting. The physical manifestation of the rash will vary from person to person depending on the severity of their eczema.
Typically, eczema presents on the face, feet, and hands as well as in areas of the skin that experience friction and where perspiration accumulates, e.g. under the arms, the neck, behind the knees, the crook of the elbow, etc.
Described by sufferers as unbearable, the itchiness and discomfort caused by eczema is severe. Scratching the affected area will produce little or no satisfaction as it does, in fact, make it worse. The skin becomes raw and the level of pain increases significantly. This is especially a problem with infants and children who are known to struggle to avoid scratching the affected areas.
In addition to the physical discomfort caused by eczema, the embarrassment caused by the effect it has on the sufferer’s physical appearance cannot be discounted, especially among teenagers and adults. It can lead to decreased self-confidence.
Causes of eczema
The causes of eczema are not 100% clear and defined. There are genetic and environmental factors that can trigger eczema. It is generally accepted that the causes of eczema are rooted in the human immune system. A weakened or compromised immune system has the potential to cause a reaction in the skin which presents as eczema. However, exposure to certain soaps, washing powders and deodorants can cause a flare-up of the condition.
Where a person is allergic to certain foodstuffs, e.g. eggs, nuts and dairy products, etc., consumption of these allergen-containing foods can trigger an eczema breakout. Perspiration and changes in humidity have also been shown to cause eczema incidents.
Treatment of the condition
There is no known cure for eczema. Some children who are diagnosed with allergy-related eczema are fortunate enough to outgrow it, but this is not a given. In most instances, the sufferer will live with the condition for their whole life. Medications and treatments are not aimed at eradicating eczema but rather at preventing outbreaks and mitigating the effects when an outbreak occurs.
Treatments are topical and designed for direct application to the affected area. Most conventional medical treatments involve the use of cortisone and steroids in creams and balms. Whilst they do provide relief in most instances, there is potential for long-term side effects such as the thinning of the skin, skin discoloration and the potential for infection.
The Case for CBD oil and Eczema
CBD oil is a cannabis extract. It is not made from THC, the most well-known cannabis extract which is associated with feelings of altered reality (highs) and dependency. CBD does make you high and it is not habit forming.
The use of CBD oil treatments is gaining traction as a viable alternative to conventional treatments. Decriminalization of cannabis in many areas and a growing body of research which shows that CBD oil has a great number of healing properties has made it a more feasible option for treatment than ever before. People are turning to CBD oil for long-term relief with fewer side effects than conventional medicines.
Generally, balms and salves are made from CBD oils to be used as treatments for eczema outbreaks.
The benefits of using CBD oil in the treatment of eczema are:
- CBD is a known anti-inflammatory
Since eczema is an inflammatory response to an irritant, the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD oil provide much-needed relief.
- CBD has immunosuppressant properties
When a person has a flare up of eczema, their immune system reacts with an inflammatory response. An immune system overreaction can lead to further inflammation and pain. Therefore, the immunosuppressant properties of CBD oil can help to minimize the immune system reaction to eczema, thereby reducing the amount of inflammation.
- CBD can reduce itching
In addition to the pain experienced by eczema sufferers, the itching also causes enormous discomfort. Preliminary medical studies have been done during which CBD oil was applied to patches of itching eczema. Many patients reported a significant reduction in the levels of itchiness they were experiencing. Research and trials are ongoing.
- CBD can relieve pain
The natural anti-inflammatory contained in CBD are also able to treat pain experienced by eczema sufferers.
- CBD alleviates stress
Eczema can be triggered by stress. When the body experiences stress, the immune system reacts with an inflammatory response which can trigger or aggravate an eczema breakout. The properties of CBD which relieve stress and anxiety can prevent such inflammatory responses.
CBD balms and oils are applied directly to the affected area. These special preparations contain vitamins, minerals, proteins and fatty acids. All of these ingredients also help with the skin dryness associated with eczema. As they are applied topically, these treatments are fast acting. Only a very minimal amount of CBD is absorbed into the body. This is why topical CBD treatments are generally recommended for children with eczema.
A sufferer may choose to supplement the use of CBD oil balms with CBD oil ingested orally. Whilst in the long term the oil can treat the triggers of eczema such as stress and inflammation, the relief is not immediate as that provided by topical treatments.
The potential uses of CBD are as yet an untapped market with seemingly limitless possibilities. However, its use in skin irritations such as eczema is fairly well-documented and supported.
As with any treatment, it is advisable that the patient approach someone with relevant CBD oil product content and use knowledge to ensure that the correct product and correct doses are being used to optimally treat the condition.