Millions of people around the world have to live with psoriasis as part of their daily lives. Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease, and it is chronic in its nature. Those who suffer with psoriasis often have an overactive immune system which causes skin cells to grow faster than they should. This results in the skin becoming red, scaly and extremely painful patches of skin begin to build up. The areas of skin that are impacted by psoriasis are itchy, disruptive and quite unseemly.
Unfortunately, psoriasis is not a curable condition and the only option sufferers have is to treat the symptoms of the condition and learn how to best live with their condition. CBD balm offers a potential treatment for those suffering with psoriasis and help with inflammation and symptom management. This article will go on to identify exactly what psoriasis is, its symptoms and causes and specifically how CBD balm can offer relief that cannot be found elsewhere.
What is Psoriasis?
Those who are afflicted by the condition will have to endure a lifetime of itching. Most people with psoriasis will have to find a way to manage their symptoms for the duration of their life as it is incurable. There are medications available such as topical steroid creams and other medical creams formulated to soothe the skin and reduce irritation. While they can be effective in the short term, they are often ineffective when used over an extended period of time.
Women often have greater problems with psoriasis because of fluctuations in hormones and it is these hormones that cause flare-ups, pregnant women are particularly susceptible to flare-ups.
Psoriatic arthritis affects about 30% of psoriasis patients and is caused by inflammation. The elevated levels of inflammation cause complications such as osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems and thyroid issues. For these reasons, it is imperative that psoriasis sufferers manage their cholesterol and ensure that they are not overweight.
Certain foods can trigger psoriasis so managing your diet is vital. Eating junk foods, dairy and drinking alcohol can be a major factor in initiating flare-ups. Foods that have a lot of antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables can help fight oxidative inflammation and this is why eating fresh fruit and veg is crucial if you have psoriasis. There are also reports of there being positive effects from eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like fish such as salmon and sardines which can reduce inflammation in the body. There are also spices like turmeric which can act as an anti-inflammatory as well as oils like olive oil and coconut oil.
The mental health impact of psoriasis can be appalling, and it can damage your confidence and affect your personal relationships. Psoriasis can be embarrassing and cause insecurity, ultimately inhibiting how you live your life, which is incredibly sad. It can also have a detrimental impact on your sleeping pattern.
What are the Symptoms of Psoriasis?
The symptoms of psoriasis vary on an individual basis, but traditionally they include:
- Red skin
- Red skin patches that are covered in scales
- Cracked & dry skin
- Bleeding of the skin
- Burning itch
- Thickened nails
- Stiff and swollen joints
The red patches of psoriasis can vary from just a few small spots of scaly skin that are similar in appearance to dandruff, to extraordinarily serious outbreaks that cover the majority of the body. The arms, elbows, ankles and knees are all commonly effected.
What are the Different Types of Psoriasis?
Although most people are unaware of this, there are actually a number of different types of psoriasis, each with their own unique set of characteristics. The most prominent types of psoriasis are:
- Plaque Psoriasis – This is the most common form of psoriasis. This is characterised by dry, red lesions covering the skin. They may range from being few in number, to plentiful and they may be tender or itchy (maybe even both, if you’re unlucky). They can most often be found on the scalp, elbows, lower back and knees.
- Pustular Psoriasis – This is one of the least common varieties of psoriasis. Pustular psoriasis can occur both in smaller patches and widespread patches. The lesions are filled with pus and look similar to blisters. They frequently occur on the soles of the feet, or the palms of the hands.
- Inverse Psoriasis – Inverse psoriasis causes smoother patches of red skin than other types of psoriasis, however these are aggravated but sweating and friction. These patches usually occur near the breasts, bottom and groin. Inverse psoriasis can also be triggered by fungal infections.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis – This is the rarest variety of psoriasis. That said, it is undoubtedly one of the most severe and debilitating variants. Erythrodermic psoriasis has the potential to cover the entire body with a serious red rash that causes intense burning and itching.
- Nail Psoriasis – Nail psoriasis, unsurprisingly, affects both the fingernails and toenails. Not only can it cause discolouration and abnormal growth, but it can also cause nails to loosen, separate and even crumble. This is known as onycholysis.
- Guttate Psoriasis – Guttate psoriasis is most common in children and teenagers. It is characterised by small scaly patches of skin, shaped like teardrops and most commonly found on the arms and legs. It is generally triggered by bacterial infection.
- Psoriatic Arthritis – Similar to typical arthritis, psoriatic arthritis causes painful swelling in joints. Over time, it causes increasingly severe damage to joints and in the most extreme instances, this damage can be permanent.
What are the Causes of Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an immune system disorder and triggers the skin to regenerate at too fast a rate. In plaque psoriasis, the excessive speed of skin regeneration causes red, scaly skin. What causes the immune system to react in this manner is not clear. However, psoriasis is definitively not contagious. It is believed that both genetic and environmental factors play apart in psoriasis developing.
Triggers of psoriasis are a huge issue as they can take weeks to recover from. Many people who are predisposed to psoriasis have no symptoms until an environmental factor triggers the condition.
Some common causes of psoriasis are:
- Skin injury such as a bug bite or severe scratch
- Weather, particularly dry, cold conditions
- Heavy drinking
- Withdrawal from corticosteroids
- Exposure to smoke
- Prescription medications like lithium, antimalarial drugs and high blood pressure medications
Risks for Psoriasis
Anybody can develop psoriasis, although there are several risk factors:
- Family History – It is a genetic disease, so one or more parents with psoriasis would increase the likelihood that you will get it.
- Smoking – Numerous studies have found links between smoking and the onset of psoriasis. It can also increase the seriousness of the disease if you do already have it.
- Stress – High levels of stress can not only reduce the efficacy of your immune system, but also increase the risk of psoriasis.
Complications of psoriasis include:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Other autoimmune diseases such as IBD and celiac disease
- Heart disease
What are the Challenges of Treating Psoriasis?
Treating psoriasis is an ongoing challenge and you must stay on top of it and maintain your routine.
There are a few options.
Topicals – non-medicated moisturising products for the skin can reduce the dryness and soothe the affected skin from psoriatic plaques.
Medicated topicals, such as CBD balm, are widely available and applying them directly to the psoriatic skin can reduce skin turnover and inflammation. Some common active ingredients in these creams and ointments are coal tar, corticosteroids, dithranol and retinoids.
Systemic Agents – they can work against psoriasis that resists both topical treatment and phototherapy, that is a medication which is a pill or injection. Only those with regular blood and liver function can utilise this option and if you are pregnant, it is not advised.
The three primary systemic medications that are prescribed to treat psoriasis are cyclosporine, methotrexate and retinoids. Cyclosporine and methotrexate are immunosuppressant drugs that work by regulating the unhealthy overactive immune system. Ulcerations can be a negative side effect of using this method to treat psoriasis. Retinoids are a synthetic form of vitamin A and can speed up the skin cell shedding meaning that plaques of skin do not develop as quickly.
Can CBD Reduce the Symptoms of Psoriasis?
CBD is an immune-modulator and anti-inflammatory, this means that in theory it is a good to use if you have psoriasis. The endocannabinoid system in the body is a naturally occurring network of cannabinoid receptors that regulates homeostasis which is what keeps the human body in balance.
One study illustrates the role of cannabinoids in supressing inflammation and excessive growth in the skin’s epithelial layer. The research indicates that human skin contains a functional endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids act to reduce inflammation. CBD is supported by scientific evidence as a treatment for psoriasis. CBD balm in particular is extremely effective as it acts far quicker than any alternative CBD product. This is because you are applying the CBD directly on to the effected area.
How Does CBD Alleviate the Symptoms of Psoriasis?
Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis arise when the balance within the body is disrupted, and the endocannabinoid system plays an integral role in homeostasis. The CB1 & CB2 receptors are the two common receptors in the endocannabinoid system. The CB1 receptors are found throughout the body but CB2 receptors are mainly found in the immune system. Both endocannabinoids that are created within the body and phytocannabinoids such as CBD can bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD are the most common phytocannabinoids. THC is the cannabinoid that causes those who consume it to get high and experience psychological effects.
CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory and as a result can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions. THC is an immunosuppressive and reduce cytokines. Cytokines are a cause of inflammation and rapid skin cell development and psoriasis is an immunosuppressive disorder. Cannabinoids, in particular THC, could be of great help to those who suffer with psoriasis.
A study found that cannabinoids inhibit patient’s psoriasis legions from growing as quickly. The manner in which the endocannabinoid system moderates interactions between the central nervous system and the immune system suggests that cannabinoids can be a treatment for psoriasis. A range of studies suggest that cannabinoid treatments could be used to treat skin conditions like eczema and acne.
Should I use CBD Balm or CBD Oil to Treat Psoriasis?
There is undoubtedly a dizzying array of CBD delivery methods available to the consumer, from CBD patches, to CBD vape oil. The two most popular choices of treatment for psoriasis however, are undoubtedly CBD balm and CBD oil.
The instances in which you would opt for CBD balm or CBD oil is really dependent on the location of your outbreaks. As we now know, psoriasis breakouts can be caused by a wide range of triggers, dependent on the type of psoriasis that you are dealing with.
As is well known, the skin on our face is far more sensitive than other areas of the body and is also more susceptible to acne. If you are suffering with psoriasis on the face, it may be safer to opt for CBD oil over CBD balm. Similarly, it is impractical to apply CBD balm to the scalp, if this happens to be the affected area.
Aside from the above, it is widely accepted that applying CBD balm locally is more effective than taking CBD sublingually, or orally in oil or capsule form. This is because the CBD will immediately get to work on the area local to application, as well as providing an instant, soothing sensation.
It may also be worth combining CBD products. While CBD balm is more effective at treating topical conditions such as psoriasis, CBD vapes or CBD oils could be used simultaneously in order to tackle the root of the issue.
As examined earlier in the article, we know that there are a wide variety of triggers that can cause flare ups, such as stress and difficulties with the immune system. CBD vapes, or CBD oils would allow more CBD to enter your internal endocannabinoid system and combat these causes more effectively than a topical product. This is more of a preventative approach but when combined with something like CBD balm, this is where CBD’s full effects can be unleased.
Ultimately, there is no right answer to this question. It all depends on the circumstances of your own psoriasis, the particular triggers for your flare ups and the areas in which you are affected.
Research implies that CBD skincare products, such as CBD balm, hold great promise for psoriasis sufferers and many people with similar skin conditions. Its efficacy could also be enhanced by using a topical CBD product in conjunction with an oral, or sublingual CBD product.
CBD is an option that is certainly worth considering if you have severe skin problems and while it may not be a solution, it may be able to ease your symptoms.
On a final note, it is always important to ensure you speak to your doctor or GP prior to starting CBD treatment for psoriasis, or any condition for that matter.
To ensure you are receiving a high-quality product, we recommend that you request an independent third party lab report from the CBD vendor of your choice. This is a document produced by an independent laboratory that confirms the exact ingredients of the product that you wish to purchase. If you wish to buy CBD balm from Cannacares, we can provide you with this documentation.