CBD is known to have very few side effects, but can it cause itching? We take a look at whether CBD can cause allergies and itchy skin. Using CBD for eczema may provide relief for dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. Here’s what the research says and considerations to know before purchasing topicals. Di you know that skin has its own endocannabinoid system to which the CBD cannabinoid binds. What skin problems does CBD work on best?
Can CBD Oil Cause Itching? [Explained]
Most experts consider cannabidiol (CBD) to have an excellent safety profile and minimal risk of side effects. However, some patients have reported experiencing itching after using CBD oil. Could this be a CBD side effect or merely a coincidence?
In this article, we’ll answer the question, “can CBD oil cause itching?” Read on to learn more.
Does CBD Make You Itch?
One of the reasons CBD has become so popular is that it generally causes very few adverse effects.
A 2017 review for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research investigated the safety and side effects of CBD. It concluded that CBD has a favorable side effect profile in comparison to many pharmaceuticals that treat the same conditions.
That said, side effects did occur, with the most common being tiredness, diarrhea, and appetite/weight changes. The report makes no mention of itching as a potential CBD oil side effect.
However, in the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had different findings. The MHRA runs the Yellow Card Scheme, which provides consumers with an opportunity to report adverse reactions after using a specific medicine or supplement.
The 2019 report suggests that there were at least two cases of rashes and itching after using CBD oil. One patient took CBD orally and experienced urticaria, a severe skin reaction involving red welts, swelling, and intense itching. Another used CBD both orally and topically and also experienced itching.
It seems that the most likely explanation for these adverse effects is an allergic reaction to CBD oil. So, how common is this problem, and are there any other symptoms?
Exploring the advantages and d…
Itching and Other CBD Oil Allergic Reaction Symptoms
There is little information available on CBD oil allergies. However, there is some research into cannabis allergies in general. The Annals of Asthma, Allergies, and Immunology conducted a study in 2013. It concluded that there had been cases of hypersensitivity and even anaphylaxis after using marijuana.
Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is an extreme allergic reaction. It results in swelling of the airways and an inability to breathe and can potentially be fatal. Other cannabis allergy symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Rhinitis (nasal inflammation)
- Nasal congestion
- Shortness of breath
- Watery eyes
Furthermore, the report states that workers in hemp processing facilities may experience higher rates of respiratory problems. The authors point out that most cannabis allergies occur due to smoking and direct handling. However, consuming edibles could also potentially cause a reaction.
The AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology) says that cannabis allergy can develop due to “inhaling, smoking, touching, and eating marijuana.” It states that touching the plant could cause rashes, hives, and swelling in sensitive individuals.
Since CBD comes from cannabis plants, it is reasonable to assume that those with cannabis allergies could also be sensitive to CBD. However, more research is necessary to confirm how many people are allergic to CBD oil and to what extent.
Can CBD Oil Cause a Skin Rash?
As we have already mentioned, there have been isolated reports of CBD causing a skin rash. This side effect may be more widely reported with a particular form of CBD known as Epidiolex.
Epidiolex is the only form of CBD with full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, scientists have tested it rigorously for both potential benefits and side effects. The drug’s prescribing information lists rashes as one of the most common side effects of Epidiolex.
It also states that the drug could cause liver problems. One of the symptoms of this is itching. Other signs of liver issues include:
- Reduced appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Dark urine
- Pain in the upper-right abdominal area
Anyone experiencing these side effects after taking Epidiolex or CBD oil should seek medical advice immediately.
Can CBD Oil Cause Itchy Eyes?
Itchy eyes are a common allergy symptom. Pollen allergies often cause the eyes to become red, watery, and itchy. Therefore, someone allergic to cannabis coming into contact with cannabis or hemp pollen could experience these effects.
Those who use marijuana regularly may be familiar with the tell-tale side effect of red or bloodshot eyes. However, this is not due to CBD but the intoxicating compound in cannabis, THC.
Red eyes result from THC causing the blood vessels to relax and widen. Many believe that, for the same reason, marijuana could be a useful glaucoma treatment.
We couldn’t find any reliable reports of CBD oil causing itchy eyes, but that does not mean it is impossible. Let us know in the comments at the end of the article if you have experienced this.
CBD and Itching: The Problem or the Solution?
Although some people have experienced itching after using CBD oil, this reaction only affects a minority of users. In fact, some research suggests that CBD could offer a solution to itching in skin conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis.
CBD impacts the body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is present in most of the body’s tissues, including the skin. Experts believe that it regulates the growth and development of skin cells and influences their immune function.
The ECS is also present in the skin’s nerve endings and plays a role in sensory perception, including pain and itching. These effects are under the control of numerous cell receptors, including cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). These receptors become active when they bind with chemicals called endocannabinoids that our bodies naturally produce.
It seems that CBD works primarily by increasing the levels of these endocannabinoids to enhance ECS function. This effect means that CBD could be more likely to relieve itching than cause it.
A 2006 study for the German journal Der Hautarzt tested a compound called N-palmitoyl ethanolamine (PEA) in 22 patients with itching due to various skin conditions. The chemical is a cannabinoid agonist, meaning that it stimulates receptors in the ECS. Of the 22 participants, 14 experienced reductions in itching, and the average reduction was an impressive 86.4%.
This study, unfortunately, had a very small sample size, and more research is necessary to confirm its results conclusively. However, these preliminary findings suggest that, unless you have a CBD allergy, the compound is more likely to act as a solution to itching than a cause.
Can CBD Oil Cause Itching? Final Thoughts
It seems that CBD oil may cause itching in a small number of consumers. This reaction is most likely the result of a CBD allergy or sensitivity to other ingredients in the product. The latter could be especially true when using topical CBD products, as these contain a variety of components that could potentially irritate the skin.
We advise anyone considering using CBD skin creams to look for a product containing all-natural ingredients and as few of them as possible. This precaution is especially important if you have sensitive skin or other allergies.
As always, we only recommend buying CBD from reputable brands that publish third-party lab reports on their websites. Products that have not undergone testing may contain contaminants and increase the risk of adverse reactions like itching.
And finally, if you do experience itching after taking CBD, we suggest that you stop using it immediately. Make an appointment with a physician who will be able to run tests and advise you further.
Does CBD for Eczema Really Work?
Lindsay Curtis is a health writer with over 20 years of experience in writing health, science & wellness-focused articles.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Emily Dashiell, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor who has worked in group and private practice settings over the last 15 years. She is in private practice in Santa Monica, California.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in the cannabis plant that can be prepared as oils, creams, and other products for use as a therapeutic remedy for many common ailments and health conditions. Some people use CBD oil for eczema.
Eczema (dermatitis) is a skin condition that causes patches of irritated, itchy, dry, inflamed skin. There are many types of eczema. While the exact cause is unknown, genetics, environmental factors, and the immune system are believed to be potential causes and triggers.
There is no cure for eczema, but there are ways to manage symptoms, including over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription treatments. For people who prefer using natural remedies, CBD oil may help soothe and reduce their eczema symptoms.
Photoboyko / Getty Images
What Is CBD Oil?
Cannabis plants contain unique chemicals called cannabinoids. The two major cannabinoids are:
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): Has psychoactive properties that can make a person feel “high”
- Cannabidiol (CBD): Has no psychoactive effects but may provide therapeutic benefits
Both CBD and THC interact with a communication system in the body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex biological system that plays a role in appetite, mood, memory, and sleep.
Research has suggested that the ECS contributes to the function and reproduction of skin cells. A dysregulated ECS is associated with dermatological disorders, including eczema and atopic dermatitis.
When applied topically to the skin, CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the top layer of the skin (epidermis) and may offer therapeutic benefits including moisturizing the skin, reducing itchiness and inflammation, and promoting wound healing.
CBD oil comes in many forms, including creams, salves, balms, lotions, and oils.
Hemp Seed Oil vs. CBD
In your search for plant-based remedies for treating eczema, you may have come across different options that derive from cannabis and hemp plants, including hemp seed oil, hemp oil, and CBD oil.
Understanding the differences can help you know what to look for when you’re shopping for whole hemp plant products for eczema.
: Created by pressing the seeds of hemp plants (Cannabis sativa L.). This oil is rich in fatty acids and other nutrients, and research shows it can be helpful in treating skin conditions, including eczema and dermatitis. Hemp seed oil does not contain cannabinoids—the chemical compounds in the hemp plant that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. : Made using the flower of the hemp plant, rather than the seed. Hemp oil contains a full spectrum of cannabinoids. CBD is just one of the cannabinoids in hemp oil. : Extracted from the entire hemp plant, including the stalks, flowers, and leaves. CBD oil does not come from the seeds of the cannabis plant (the seeds do not contain cannabinoids).
CBD for Eczema Symptoms
There are many types of eczema, and they can show up in different parts of the body. Eczema of all types can cause itchy, dry, flaky patches of skin. In some cases, it may cause painful sores and blisters, which can leave the skin more susceptible to infection.
Types of eczema that may benefit from topical CBD include:
- Atopic dermatitis (AD): This is the most common type of eczema. It is associated with dryness and itching. The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed to be triggered by an overactive immune system. People with asthma and/or hay fever are more likely to develop AD. : This type of eczema is caused by an allergic reaction from contact with irritants such as fragrances, dyes, metal, some medications, and poison ivy/oak. Symptoms include intense itching, and burning or blistering of the skin. : This type of eczema is triggered by stress, seasonal allergies, and change in humidity. It causes itchy, irritating blisters on the bottom of the feet and palms of the hands. : This type of eczema is associated with pink or brown circular (sometimes oozing) spots on the skin. It is often triggered by dry, sensitive skin, insect bites, injuries to the skin, or chemical burns. : This type of eczema is commonly caused by cold, dry weather, genetics, and stress. It produces scaly, dry patches of skin on the scalp or body which tend to form where the skin is most oily, including around the eyebrows, mid-chest, upper back, and groin area.
What Research Shows
There are limited studies on the effectiveness of topical CBD for people with eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions. However, some of the research suggests that CBD oil may have therapeutic potential for treating eczema, healing skin wounds, and soothing skin symptoms.
A study published in 2019 found that CBD ointment helped reduce itchiness, soothed redness and inflammation, and enhanced sleep in people with eczema.
A 2014 study found that hemp seed oil was useful for treating eczema and other skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne rosacea, and seborrheic dermatitis. The study also showed that hemp seed oil strengthens skin and makes it more resistant to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
What Causes Eczema Flares?
Though eczema affects everyone differently, a number of common triggers can cause a flare-up of symptoms.
Common causes of eczema flares include:
- Dry skin: Brittle, rough, and tight skin can worsen eczema symptoms.
- Chemical irritants: Fragrances, chemicals found in shampoos and lotions, cigarette smoke, and environmental toxins can worsen or trigger eczema symptoms.
- Stress: Emotional stress can trigger or worsen eczema symptoms. Anecdotally, many people use CBD to help manage stress. Early research has shown that it might be effective at relieving stress, anxiety, and sleeping problems.
Is CBD for Eczema Safe?
CBD is generally considered to be safe for use in treating eczema and other skin conditions. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD oil might help reduce irritation, pain, swelling, and redness from skin conditions like eczema.
As with any topical treatment, it’s best to test CBD oil on a small patch of unaffected skin before applying it to larger areas where you have eczema.
To do a patch test, apply CBD oil to a small area and watch for 24 hours to check for any side effects (e.g., itching, redness, swelling).
Talk to your primary care physician or dermatologist before you try CBD, as they will want to discuss the potential side effects of using CBD products, as well as make sure that it will not interact with any other medications, supplements, or treatments that you are using.
Best CBD for Eczema Flare-Ups
Topical CBD comes in many forms, including creams, lotions, serums, balms, and salves.
One of the best defenses against eczema is keeping your skin well hydrated. Thicker topicals that contain ingredients for both skin protection and moisturization can be especially helpful.
CBD products also come in different preparations. The availability of these products (especially those that contain THC) will vary from state to state.
- Isolate: CBD is the only cannabinoid contained in the product. : Contains multiple naturally occurring cannabis plant extracts, including terpenes and other cannabinoids, including up to 0.3% THC.
- Broad: Contains CBD and other components/cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, but does not contain any THC.
How to Buy CBD
With many CBD and hemp oil options for eczema, it can be challenging to know what products to choose. Here are some key points to consider when you’re picking a product:
- Hemp source: CBD is derived from hemp plants. The quality and cultivation of the plants are important considerations. Look for products that come from organic hemp plants when possible.
- Certificate of Analysis (CoA): Responsible, reputable manufacturers should offer a CoA that details the quantities of a product’s cannabinoids. CoAs are conducted by an independent, accredited lab.
- Read the label: Read the full list of ingredients for CBD topicals. Make sure that any product you are considering does not contain fragrances or other potential irritants that could worsen eczema.
- Type of CBD: To get the best results, look for full-spectrum or broad CBD products, which may offer an “entourage effect” (combining multiple cannabis compounds that work in synergy to offer the most benefits).
A Word From Verywell
While there are many OTC and prescription treatments for eczema, if you are looking for a natural way to manage your symptoms, CBD products might be an option.
Research on how effective CBD is for treating skin conditions like eczema is limited, but has shown that products that contain CBD might help reduce the dry skin, itchiness, and inflammation that is associated with eczema.
It’s important that you talk to your doctor before you try a CBD product, as it can have side effects and might interact with other treatments that you use for eczema.
Before you use CBD on your skin, do a spot test on a place that does not have eczema on it to make sure that you do not have a sensitivity or reaction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does CBD help with itchy skin from eczema?
CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce irritating eczema symptoms such as itching, pain, and dry skin.
How does the ECS work?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) helps regulate many physiological processes, including sleep, immune function, and pain.
Research has shown that the endocannabinoid system also plays a role in skin health. A dysregulated ECS is associated with dermatological disorders such as eczema and atopic dermatitis.
When applied topically, CBD’s anti-inflammatory, anti-itch, and pain-reducing properties interact with the ECS, which might make it an effective treatment for many skin conditions.
Is CBD good for skin conditions?
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD is commonly used to treat skin conditions and soothe symptoms—especially the dryness, itching, and pain often associated with eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Is CBD for eczema safe?
CBD is generally considered to be a safe alternative treatment for eczema. However, as with any skincare product, you’ll want to do a patch test first to make sure that you do not have a sensitivity or allergy.
Apply CBD to a small patch of unaffected skin and wait for 24 hours, watching for symptoms of irritation such as itching, redness, and pain. If no symptoms develop, you can safely apply the product liberally to any eczema patches.
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Río CD, Millán E, García V, Appendino G, DeMesa J, Muñoz E. The endocannabinoid system of the skin. A potential approach for the treatment of skin disorders. Biochem Pharmacol. 2018;157:122-133. doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2018.08.022
Tabassum N, Hamdani M. Plants used to treat skin diseases. Pharmacogn Rev. 2014;8(15):52-60. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.125531
National Eczema Association. Atopic dermatitis.
National Eczema Association. Contact dermatitis.
Baswan SM, Klosner AE, Glynn K, et al. Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD) for skin health and disorders. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2020;13:927-942. doi:10.2147/CCID.S286411
4 skin problems that you can solve with CBD (and select herbs)
CBD oil is a natural active ingredient derived from the Cannabis sativa industrial cannabis species. CBD cannabinoid has so many positive effects on the human body, we often joke that every person has at least one ailment CBD oil could help with. CBD is used to relieve insomnia and chronic pain, and to help relieve autoimmune diseases, anxiety and depression. It is also popular as a natural remedy against insomnia and as an additional boost for the immune system. Lately, the use of CBD oil for the skin has also been gaining a lot of attention. Because the skin has its own endocannabinoid system to which the CBD cannabinoid binds, it is effective in a wide range of skin problems. What skin problems does CBD work on best?
CBD and psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease where skin cells grow and divide at an accelerated rate. Eczema start appearing on the skin as a result of this division and they are usually red with a silver outline but can also be pink or brown in colour. Psoriasis is a disease that doesn’t have a cure yet, but various therapies do exist to mitigate its symptoms. A lot can be done to alleviate the symptoms by adjusting your lifestyle, maintaining a balanced diet and with moderate exposure to the sun. CBD cannabinoid is also becoming an increasingly popular natural remedy for psoriasis outbreaks and several studies have shown the effect it has on decelerating skin cell division. CBD cannabinoid also has anti-inflammatory properties which additionally soothe psoriasis conditions. You can read more about CBD cannabinoid use in psoriasis treatments in one of our previous posts: Does CBD oil help with psoriasis?
Something that actually helps .
“At last, I’ve found something that actually helps .
Great texture, lovely smell, absorbs easily and really helps the irritated and flaky atopic skin on my arms hands and face.
Can not recommend it enough.” – Cherly
Acne and skin impurities – CBD’s double effect
Acne and skin impurities are not exclusive to teenagers, they often occur in adulthood as well. Most commonly the causes of adult acne are hormonal imbalances, stress, an unhealthy diet and improper skin care. Their formation is caused by an increased secretion of sebum (tallow) and the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. Sebum normally plays an important role in skin protection, but when the skin produces too much of it, it can also cause unwanted acne. Our fight against acne can take place on multiple levels – with a healthy diet, regular cleansing of dead skin cells, avoiding stress and regular physical activity. Of course, proper skin care that balances the skin and brings it to a healthy and radiant state is crucial. And CBD cannabinoid is undoubtedly an active ingredient which, when it comes to acne skin care, is very promising. Why is CBD a great ally in the fight against acne?
1. CBD reduces the formation of sebum in sebaceous tissues
Clinical studies have shown that the CBD molecule reduces the formation of sebum in the sebaceous glands, which is highly desired in acne-prone skin care, as the formation of sebum is the most common culprit of acne.
2. CBD has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
CBD carries out complex anti-inflammatory and antibacterial actions demonstrated also in many other experimental studies on diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Red acne (not blackheads) are the result of inflammatory skin changes that CBD cannabinoid can successfully calm down.
Best cream against acne!
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New favorite product in my skin care routine!
“I’ve used several other brands and skin care lines with hemp and CBD based products and found the Balancing Face Cream to be the most helpful in moisturizing and preventing acne. This moisturizer is light, non greasy and balances my skin.” – Sarah V.
A healthy, clean and refreshed complexion is something that we all long for! This set includes: Balancing Face Cream 50ml, which restores balance and normality, and moisturizes combination an oily skin. Purifying Face Cleanser 100 ml, which gently and effectively cleanses skin
CBD cannabinoid and atopic dermatitis
Dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease that most commonly occurs in children. About 10% of children under the age of 6 are affected. Dermatitis is more common in cold months and is characterized by red, itchy rashes. If you visit your doctor with a case of dermatitis, they will almost always prescribe treatment with corticosteroid creams. Such creams are effective in relieving the symptoms, but unfortunately, they also have a lot of negative side effects on the skin and body. Often, when the treatment with corticosteroids is completed, the original problem returns.
CBD cannabinoid has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin and body. Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory disease, so CBD has a positive effect on it.
CBD is all the more effective because our skin has its own endocannabinoid system onto which CBD can bind itself directly when it’s in the form of an ointment. This way it has a quick and targeted effect on the problem, calming the skin and restoring its balance. CBD also soothes itchiness and redness, two of the more prominent problems of atopic dermatitis. Read how Therapeutic CBD Skin Balm was the answer for a desperate mommy looking for the solution to her son’s skin problem in this interview. Interview: Finally we have got rid of topical steroid creams.
Concentrated CBD treatment balm tackles the toughest symptoms of atopic skin, alleviates skin reactions and soothes eczema flare-ups. Reach for it when skin needs fast-acting help for inflamed, reddened and itchy conditions. It provides intense relief and unique nourishing care. Ingredients: High concentration of CBD extract is a powerful anti-inflammatory and skin-soothing properties. Hemp seed oil, rich in essential fatty acids omega 3 & 6, Vitamin E and minerals – the building blocks of healthy skin. Calendula, shea and mango butter soothe and nurture.
CBD oil is also effective with seborrheic dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis is a fairly common chronic inflammatory skin disease that most often affects the face and scalp area. It appears in the form of red, scaly skin on the scalp and around the hairline, often manifesting itself behind the ears and in the skin folds (elbows, knees, under the breasts). The main cause is the increased production of sebum in the sebaceous glands. CBD is a great ally in the care of seborrheic dermatitis. Why?
1. CBD slows the secretion of sebum
The most common cause of seborrheic dermatitis is the excessive secretion of sebum from the sebaceous glands. Because CBD has been proven to reduce sebum secretion, it is effective in the fight against seborrheic dermatitis. Because of this, it is also effective in treating acne and impure skin.
2. CBD slows down cell proliferation on the skin
The rapid reproduction of skin cells caused by the Malassezia fungus is another important factor in the onset of seborrheic dermatitis. Clinical studies have proven that the CBD molecule reduces sebum secretion from the sebaceous glands and inhibits the rapid reproduction of sebocytes, the cells that make up sebaceous glands and affect the onset of seborrheic dermatitis.
Why is CBD cannabinoid so effective when dealing with skin conditions?
CBD cannabinoid binds to the endocannabinoid system in our body. It contains phytocannabinoids, which are cannabinoid molecules very similar to the endocannabinoids our body contains naturally. Endocannabinoids coordinate the functions of our whole organism, helping the body when it is sick or under stress. It could be said that the endocannabinoid system is the conductor of our body, ensuring that our bodies stay in tune and work harmoniously. CBD cannabinoid is so effective in fighting skin problems because our skin has its own endocannabinoid system. This system ensures that our skin is healthy and balanced. Ointments containing CBD cannabinoid bind directly to the endocannabinoid system in the skin, helping the skin find its balance quickly and effectively.
Our Choice for Most Effective Psoriasis treatment:
Therapeutic CBD Skin Balm
Relieves, protects and revitalises acutely irritated skin.
“Keeps psoriasis spots under control. . I’m fighting with my psoriasis for about 40 years now. It was CBD oil and skin balm that helped me keep it under control. Many thanks. ” – Robert W.
“It really helps the irritated and flaky atopic skin on my arms, hands and face.” – Cheryl