Everyone loves summer! With it comes long days at the beach, pool parties and hours soaking up the sun. While these are all fun activities, they are certainly not without their drawbacks – particularly among us pasty Brits!
The long hours spent outside exposed to the sun can lead to painful sunburn for anyone, regardless of skin tone or age. While we all try to be vigilant with our application and reapplication of high SPF sun cream throughout the day, there is always the risk that this will be insufficient.
Unprotected skin can be vulnerable to scarring, infection and cancer caused by the sun’s UV rays. More commonly however, we will experience the itchy and often painful and symptoms of sunburn.
Aloe vera tends to be the most widely popular remedy for sunburn, but CBD has the potential to provide even more effective relief. This article will explore exactly why CBD is effective at relieving symptoms of sunburn and how it is best used.
How does sunburn work?
The sun radiates ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause sunburn. This is very different to burning yourself on a hot surface. There are two different types of UV rays that cause damage to the skin by triggering an inflammatory response:
- UVA Rays: These have a longer wavelength, penetrate the skin more deeply and are also associated with skin aging. UVA rays also carry a higher cancer risk.
- UVB Rays: These have a shorter wavelength and do not penetrate the skin as deeply, but do cause sunburn.
While our skin does have the ability to repair damaged cells in order to overcome mild instances of sunburn, prolonged exposure can overwork the body’s natural ability to combat. This ultimately leads to the UV rays killing skin cells.
What exactly does sunburn do to your skin?
There are three classifications of burns. These are:
- First degree burns
- Second degree burns
- Third degree burns
A number of the symptoms specifically associated with first and second-degree burns are associated with damage to the outer layer and underlayer or skin, known as the epidermis and dermis, respectively. These symptoms of sunburn include:
- Peeling Skin
Our immune system sends a number of warning signs as it attempts to repair this damage caused by UV rays. The first of these warning signs is redness, which can often take up to 24 hours to appear post-exposure.
If you experience low blood pressure, feeling weak or even fainting then it is important to go to a hospital and get assessed by a medical professional.
What are the benefits of using CBD to help sunburn?
While there are a limited number of treatments available to those struggling with sunburn, the options are limited. The efficacy of these products in actually treating the burn is also questionable.
There are even some products, such as benzocaine, that can further irritate the skin and can lead to allergic reactions. Aloe vera also provides a soothing sensation upon application but does not offer longer term relief and requires constant re-application.
On the other hand, CBD is a natural product that has very few mild side effects which are uncommon. It also has a number of reported health benefits, ranging from pain management to powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
We will now examine exactly how CBD helps to heal sunburn.
CBD Can Help to Reduce Pain and Inflammation
Probably the most important way in which CBD contributes to the treatment of sunburn symptoms is through its pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.
These two properties are arguably the two most researched aspects of CBD.
A number of studies, including this 2009 review of CBD studies centred on CBD’s anti-inflammatory potential, suggest that CBD is very effective at suppressing immune responses that cause inflammation without overwhelming the entire immune system.
Furthermore, a 2016 study into dermal application of CBD on rats found that topical CBD products were effective at reducing responses to pain, swelling and immune cell infiltration.
As a result, one could reasonably expect CBD to reduce the inflammatory swelling and redness of sunburn while also protecting against possible further infections.
The searing pain that often accompanies harsh sunburn can be truly debilitating and ruin any fun you may hope to have in the sun. In more severe cases, this can even lead to nerve pain. This can be particularly frustrating when on holiday for a limited time and having to waste days huddled in the shade, suffering with pain.
Thankfully, this is another area in which CBD has the potential to help.
A major study conducted in 2012 by Ziong et al, found that CBD has the potential to enhance the effects of the inhibitory glycine receptors of the central nervous system. As a result of increasing the efficacy of these receptors, the experience of nerve pain decreases.
A more recent 2021 review of the limited animal and human studies investigating cutaneous applications of cannabinoids shed more light on the matter. This was more a more specific study in that it centred on topical application of CBD. While acknowledging the need for further human studies, the efficacy of CBD’s pain relieving effects when used topically was brought to light.
CBD can aid skin repair
While UV rays contribute to sunburn, the heat of the sun can also lead to drying out and damaging of the skin. Fortunately, many of the compounds found within CBD products, particularly topical ones, are beneficial when it comes to repairing the skin.
For example, Cannacares’ CBD moisturiser contains vitamin E, which is often found in anti-aging skin serums. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that increases photoprotection, has the potential to absorb ultraviolet light and alleviates free radical damage.
CBD is also known to be a powerful antioxidant. As we know, damage from UV rays can lead to the production of free radicals and ultimately oxidative stress. In excess, this can increase the risk of skin cancer by damaging skin cells. The antioxidative properties of CBD can help to mitigate such risks.
CBD also contains a number of fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6. These play a crucial role in protecting our skin’s oil barrier, which helps to maintain the hydration of burned skin throughout the recovery process.
CBD can help to battle infections
Once your skin begins to blister and peel following the sunburn, it becomes tremendously vulnerable to infections. This can lead to permanent scarring or markings.
As previously mentioned, CBD has powerful antioxidant properties that can combat infection. Furthermore, a 2008 study by Appendino et al revealed that CBD also possesses antibacterial properties that further protect the skin from infection in its vulnerable state.
While the majority of research conducted into CBD is conducted on animals, there are incredibly positive signs. This, combined with tremendous anecdotal human evidence and the lack of prevalence and severity in relation to side effects makes CBD a great choice for combatting sunburn. What’s to lose!?
How to use CBD for treating sunburn
There are a dizzying array of CBD products available on the market and it can often be overwhelming to choose which is best for your specific needs.
In terms of treating sunburn, a topical CBD product such as CBD balm or CBD moisturiser would be recommended. These get to work exactly on the area of application, and you can achieve relief with certainty.
Topical CBD products can take up to an hour to take effect though and often more immediate relief is required.
In this instance, its best to combine a topical product, which provides longer-lasting, targeted relief with a faster-working product that provides relief from the inside out.
For the fastest relief, CBD vape oils get to work in a matter of minutes, but typically last less than an hour. Alternatively, CBD oil tinctures take approximately 30 minutes to take effect but last between 3-4 hours.
If you are worried about the dosage that you require, then fear not! Cannacares offer a free online CBD dosage calculator. Simply enter a few rudimentary personal details and receive an instant dosage recommendation in less than a minute.
It is always best to patch test CBD topical products on a small area of skin before applying to a wider area. As mentioned, the lack of prevalence and severity in relation to the side effects of CBD mean that you can experiment with little trepidation.
What our customers say
The best treatment for sunburn is, of course, preventing it before it happens! This means applying and reapplying sun cream on a regular basis.
However, once that sunburn does kick in hours later, you will certainly know about it! There is mounting evidence to suggest that CBD has significant potential in the treatment of sunburn.
We will close our article with the words of Dr Jeanette Jacknin, MD, dermatologist and author of Smart Medicine For Your Skin. Dr Jacknin states that “There are studies in which CBD has been shown to help wounds heal, so it might help wounds [and] burns and I think people are looking into the potential of CBD as a sunscreen in and of itself”.