Sunburn. It’s the painful price many of us pay for those long fun days on the lake, at the beach, in the pool, or any other type of outdoor activity. With the coronavirus pandemic and all the lockdowns and restrictions that have come along with it, we’re doing even more activities outside and exposing ourselves even more to that big bright star in the sky.
The sun affects all of us differently. Some people are more prone to sunburns, while others just turn a nice bronze color. But one thing is true for everyone; when you do get burned by the sun, it’s not fun. Not only does it cause pain and discomfort, but it also damages our skin cells and puts us at an increased risk for developing skin cancer.
Now, once you’ve been sunburned, there’s not much you can do about the deeper damage the sun’s rays have caused, but there are remedies to help the discomfort. The most common of which has been aloe, used for centuries for treating skin injuries because of its cool, soothing effect. However, there is mounting evidence that another substance might be an effective treatment for the pain and inflammation resulting from sunburns—namely, CBD topical products.
What Is a Sunburn?
Before we dive into CBD and sunburns, what actually is a sunburn in the first place? Like so many things related to our health, we know what it is without actually knowing what it is. However, understanding sunburns and what is really happening in and to your body to produce them is crucial to understanding why CBD may be able to help.
The main culprit behind your red, painful sunburn is—you guessed it—the sun. More specifically, though, the burn results from ultraviolet light, UVA and UVB rays, penetrating, irritating, and damaging your skin. The symptoms of a sunburn, however, are actually caused by your body’s inflammatory reaction to the ultraviolet radiation damage to the skin’s outermost layers.
A sunburn occurs when your body, sensing something is wrong because of the UV damage to the skin, sends inflammatory cells to the scene of the crime. In its attempt to heal the skin, guard against further damage, and motivate you to get out of the sun, these inflammatory cells cause your skin to become red, swollen, and painful. After sunburn, your body will try to rid itself of the damaged cells, which results in the classic skin peeling.
Can CBD Help Sunburn?
Although there has not been much direct research on whether CBD helps sunburns or not, there are several properties of cannabidiol that make it an excellent candidate for treating the symptoms associated with them. Foremost among these are the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that it is believed to possess.
Dr. Jeanette Jacknin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and author of Smart Medicine For Your Skin, points out that there is a lot of potential for CBD to help skin heal from sun damage. She stated that,
“There are studies in which CBD has been shown to help wounds heal, so it might help wounds [and] burns [from the sun], and I think people are looking into the potential [of CBD] as a sunscreen in and of itself.”
However, she is also careful to point out that there is still a lot of research that needs to be done when it comes to CBD and its potential skin care benefits. But when it comes to mixing CBD into your existing sun protection process to add some anti-inflammatory magic, it might not hurt.
CBD’s Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Essentially, what it comes down to is CBD’s potential ability to temper the body’s inflammatory response. As we’ve mentioned many times before, this ability is at the heart of many of the benefits that CBD is thought to provide. More often than not, our bodies have what looks like a one-size-fits-all approach to countering problems, injuries, and perceived issues. However, often the way it reacts ends up causing us more pain and damage than the thing the body is attempting to heal, improve, or mitigate in the first place.
In these cases, what’s needed to make us feel better or improve our condition are substances or drugs that suppress our body’s inflammatory response. With its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD may help to reduce the redness, swelling, and pain that come along with our body’s response to too much time and fun in the sun.
CBD’s Antibacterial Properties
If your sunburn is severe enough, then it can also make your skin more vulnerable to bacterial infections. This is another area where CBD may be able to help. There is more and more research being completed looking into whether CBD would be an effective antibacterial or antibiotic medication. Most studies are just preliminary, but so far, the results are looking promising.
A recent study done in Australia on the efficacy of CBD as an antibiotic found that it is "remarkably effective" at killing bacteria, at least in a test tube. The results showed that CBD had antibiotic effects against a number of so-called Gram-positive bacteria, including types of staph and strep bacteria, as well as strains that had become resistant to other antibiotic drugs.
The main author of the study, Mark Blaskovich, of the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience's Centre for Superbug Solutions in Brisbane, Australia had this to say: "We still don't know how it works, and it may have a unique mechanism of action given it works against bacteria that have become resistant to other antibiotics, but we still don't know how."
"So far, we have only shown it works topically, on the skin surface. To be really useful, it would be good if we could show that it treated systemic infections e.g. pneumonia, or complicated tissue infections, where you have to give it orally or by intravenous dosing.”
How to Use CBD for Sunburn: Topicals
The best way to deliver CBD to where you need it most for sunburn is by applying topical products. CBD topicals are infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation, as well as some inflammatory skin rashes and bacterial skin infections. They are non-psychoactive and a completely natural and non-toxic way to treat pain and maintain healthy skin.
Several types of our body’s cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, have been found throughout the skin. This has led to the thinking that our body’s endocannabinoid system plays an important role in the immune response processes of our skin. And since improper immune response can result in inflammation and other skin conditions, and because CBD interacts with our body’s endocannabinoid system, there has been a great deal of interest in researching CBD topicals and CBD-infused creams as anti-inflammatories for inflammation-related skin conditions.
When you rub a CBD topical into your skin, it penetrates the tissue and interacts with the sensory nerve fibers and adnexal structures in human skin. This is where the CBD is able to access the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors and assist your body in dealing with and regulating the inflammation, pain, rash, or whatever skin, muscle, or joint issue you may be suffering from.
In addition to potentially treating sunburns, CBD topicals are also commonly used for the following conditions:
- Muscle pain
- Inflammatory skin conditions
- Itchy Rashes
- Joint pain (arthritis pain)
- Joint swelling
- Neck and back pain
- Contact dermatitis
- Nerve pain
- Bacterial infections (MRSA)
Try Our CBD Topical Products
We offer natural, pain-relieving topicals infused with pure hemp-derived CBD that will leave your skin feeling smooth and nourished. Our Body Butter and Face Moisturizer work great after a day in the sun!
Using CBD for Sunburns
Sunburns are unpleasant. Coming from someone who has experienced more than their fair share of them, I can tell you that I now have an addiction to sunscreen that borders on an obsession. But if you do get burned, then there are ways that you can relieve your discomfort and protect your skin from any further issues. CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it an idea candidate for after sun topical products.
The best part? There are no known side effects of CBD that have been observed, whether as a topical or otherwise, so there’s no harm giving it a try the next time you catch a few too many rays!