cbd for acne


If you are suffering from acne, you are far from alone. Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually. While acne usually begins in puberty and affects adolescents and young adults, it can occur at any stage of life.[1] 

And acne has a cost. The latest available figures estimate the cost associated with treatment of acne as well as lost productivity among those seeking medical care at $1.2 billion.[2] Depression is another cost associated with acne. A study found that 96 percent of people with acne have reported feeling depressed over their condition, leading 46 percent to them to develop self-esteem issues, causing 31 percent to stay more at home, declining participation in social activities. [3]

Among acne sufferers, 99 percent suffer from breakouts on the face. However, 60 percent experience acne pimples on other parts of their body.[4] The chest, upper back and shoulders are other common areas for acne.

Cause and symptoms

The cause of acne is the buildup of excess sebum, the waxy oil substance your skin produces to keep it moist, along with dirt, dead skin cells and other pollutants, which results in clogged pores.  Depending on the severity of the condition, acne can produce whiteheads; blackheads; small red, tender bumps; pimples; large, solid painful lumps under the skin and painful pus-filled lumps under the skin. [5]

Common treatments

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) remedies for treating acne that come in cream, lotion and gel form. There also are soaps that contain ingredients that might help. If acne is more serious, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics or other oral medications. Some may be used in combination with OTC creams or lotions.[6]

CBD an emerging treatment

As people look for new natural ways to treat health problems, including skin conditions, some are turning to CBD for a cure. CBD is one of the over 60 cannabinoids or naturally-occurring chemicals found in industrial hemp and marijuana. Cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is made up of endocannabinoids or neurotransmitters that send chemical messages between neurons, the cells that transmit nerve impulses.  


The ECS stimulates and controls many of the body’s functions, such as sleep, memory, appetite and immune response. ECS acts to restore balance whenever something happens with those body functions. The ECS has CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. The activation of CB2 receptors can lower inflammation. When CBD interacts with the CB2 receptor, it inhibits inflammation.[7]


How CBD works for acne

Studies show CBD’s promise in reducing the buildup of sebum. In one study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers measured the effects of CBD on human sebaceous glands and human skin samples in the laboratory.  Collectively, the study findings suggest that due to the combined lipostatic, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory effects, CBD has potential as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne.[8]

CBD also has shown promise for treating acne scars, which occur due to inflamed lesions. Inflamed blemishes occur when the pore becomes engorged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. The pore swells, causing a break in the follicle wall. The infected material spills out into the dermis and destroys healthy skin tissue.[9] In A study published in La Clinica Terapeutica, 20 participants applied CBD-enriched ointment to scarred areas two times a day for three months. At the end of the study period, researchers found the CBD ointment improved the skin’s elasticity and hydration.[10]

The physical and emotional affects of acne come with a significant cost. Now CBD is showing promise as a more natural way to deal with this widespread skin issue.


[1] “Skin Conditions By The Numbers,” American Academy of Dermatology, accessed March 5, 2021. https://www.aad.org/media/stats-numbers
[2] IBID
[3] Harth, Yoram, MD, “Acne statistics – update,” MDacne, January 2, 2021. https://www.mdacne.com/article/acne-statistics-update
[4] IBID
[5] “Acne,” Mayo Clinic, Accessed March 6, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acne/symptoms-causes/syc-20368047
[6] Gardner, Stephanie, MD, “Acne Treatments That Work,” WebMD, September 10, 2020. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/acne-treatments-that-work
[7] Meyer, Melissa, “CB1 and CB2 Receptors How the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) Works,” HealthMJ, October 17, 2019. https://www.healthmj.com/cannabis/cb1-cb2-endocannabinoid-system-receptors/
[8] Oláh A, Tóth BI, Borbíró I, et al. Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. J Clin Invest. 2014;124(9):3713-3724. doi:10.1172/JCI64628. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4151231/
[9] Palmer, Angela, “Causes of Acne Scars and How to Prevent Them,” Verywell Health, November 25, 2019. https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-causes-acne-scars-15517
[10] “Can CBD Help Treat Acne,” Healthline, Accessed March 6, 2021.  https://www.healthline.com/health/skin-disorders/cbd-for-acne#efficacy-for-acne
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