Many people are exploring an alternative acne treatment you may not have considered: CBD.

If you are one of the lucky ones, acne is just a faded memory of having zits during high school. For many others, unfortunately, teenage acne leaves scars not only in the mind but also on the face and body. If you are in the latter category, you have likely wondered how to have those nasty acne scars diminished, or perhaps you are still fighting acne inflammation.

Understanding the root causes of any affliction is an important first step in fighting it, so before we explore whether or not CBD works for acne, we will discuss what causes it.

What is acne and what causes it?

Acne is a skin condition caused by sebum— an oily, waxy substance secreted by the sebaceous glands just under the surface of the skin—and dead skin cells plugged in the hair follicles.

The glands are connected to the pores through a canal called a follicle. Usually, sebum moisturizes and protects your skin. However, when sebum contacts dead skin cells a plug is formed in the follicle. This plug may develop bacterium known as Propionibacterium acnes which eventually causes inflammation and leads to acne pimples.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne affects 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24, and continues even later in life for a smaller percentage of the population. In fact, acne may be experienced for the first time in one’s thirties or forties. In the United States, up to 50 million people are affected each year. 

So, what makes acne one of the most common skin conditions?

Multiple factors may activate the acne-causing bacteria in your skin. The most common cause is hormonal changes in the body as a result of puberty, menstrual cycles, stress, and other factors. Alternatively, acne may be caused by high humidity, vigorous face scrubbing, some cosmetics, and medications such as antibiotics, anabolic steroids, and corticosteroids.

Types of acne based on symptoms

To find the best acne treatment for you, you should first identify the type of acne you are affected by. Although the distinctive symptoms make this a fairly easy task, the following guide should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult with a licensed dermatologist or other qualified medical professional if you have a medium or severe case of acne inflammation.

Although individual types of acne may be either inflammatory or noninflammatory, keep in mind that is possible to have more than one type of acne at the same time.

Noninflammatory acne

Blackheads and whiteheads are examples of noninflammatory acne and are among the mildest types. Noninflammatory types are not associated with swelling or discoloration and are not sensitive to the touch.

Blackheads appear when sebum and dead skin cells block pores. While the pore is clogged, the top of it remains open, which is the reason why blackheads are also called open comedones.

Whiteheads, also known as closed comedones, are similar to blackheads but the combination of dead skin cells and sebum blocks both the inside of the pore and the top. As a result, you can see a small, usually white, bump coming out of the pore.

Noninflammatory types of acne are normally easy to treat with standard over-the-counter (OTC) products which can be purchased without a prescription. Although there is an enormous range of OTC products available, organic products, such as our CBD topical cream, are considered to be more gentle on the skin.

Inflammatory acne

Acne is considered inflammatory when the spots appear swollen and red. The inflammation is caused by the P. acnes bacteria activated below the skin surface. As a result, the pimple may be sensitive and even painful to the touch. In some cases, inflammatory acne is known to leave scars on the skin long after the inflammation has passed.

Inflammatory acne includes nodules, cysts, papules and pustules.

Nodules are clogged pores that were additionally irritated and have become swollen. As a result, they are likely to grow larger. Nodules are located deep underneath the surface of the skin and are best left to professional medical care rather than self-treatment. An example of inflamed nodules is acne fulminans, normally characterized by open sores on the face, chest, and back.

Cysts appear when bacteria are added to the dead skin cells and sebum clogs. The blockage is located even further underneath the surface than nodules. Cysts are the deepest and largest type of acne, and are the most likely type to leave scars after inflammation has passed. Cysts may be white or red, and the pimples are usually painful to the touch.

Papules are hard pores that are also sensitive to the touch. They appear when the walls of the clogged pore break down due to severe inflammation. Papules are in the upper layers of the skin and usually appear as pink spots.

Just like papules, pustules are a result of broken pore walls and occur just under the skin. The main difference is that pustules, as the name suggests, are filled with pus. They are easy to recognize since they have white or yellow heads on top and are red in color.

While papules and pustules are moderate forms of acne; nodules and cysts are considered the most severe.

Types of acne based on the cause

Hormonal acne

Hormonal acne appears when a sudden hormonal change happens in the body, and is usually associated with teenagers and puberty. However, hormonal acne is not limited to teenage years and may occur at all ages, even in one’s fifties.

Teenage hormonal acne is so common that many people consider it an inevitable part of growing up. Adult acne, on the other hand, is something people usually avoid talking about. There are several factors commonly associated with adult acne.

Women are especially susceptible during pregnancy, menopause, around their period, and when starting or discontinuing oral contraception. A significant hormonal fluctuation may occur in the woman’s body during these times, and a breakout is one of the most common side effects.

Genetic predisposition is also a cause of many cases of adult acne. Research has shown that you are more likely to suffer from acne in your adult years if close relatives also suffer from the same skin condition.

Stress is also a common contributor to adult acne. During high levels of stress, a hormone called androgen is released in the body. Androgen stimulates the follicles and the oil glands, which may eventually cause a breakout.

Adult acne can also appear as a side effect of some medications. When this is the case, a consultation with a physician is suggested.

In teenage years, hormonal changes usually cause forehead acne by affecting the “T-zone”. This area includes the forehead, nose and chin. In adults, hormonal acne typically shows on the lower side of the face, including the chin and the zone around the jawline.

Hormonal acne most commonly causes noninflammatory blackheads and whiteheads, although in some cases it may also result in cysts. Keeping your face clean and moisturized is the best prevention against facial acne.

Irritation-based acne

Although hormonal fluctuation is the most common reason for acne, it may also occur after prolonged skin irritation. Such forms of acne usually appear as body or back acne. Wearing hats may cause zits to appear in the forehead area as well.

Although acne could practically appear throughout the whole body, the upper part of the body is more sensitive due to the higher number of sebaceous glands. The breakouts usually occur on the neck, shoulders, chest, back, and upper arms but they could appear on less common areas such as the legs or buttocks.

Body acne is not uncommon and is mainly caused by the same factors that also cause facial acne—excess dead skin cells and overactive oil glands, which may be accompanied by the acne-causing bacteria. While it can occur both in teenagers and adults, some studies suggest that body acne is more common among males than females.

Acne mechanica is a type of acne specific to the body. It’s mainly caused when pressure applied to the skin is combined with heat and/or sweat, and follicle irritation causes pimples to appear. Acne mechanica may occur as a result of friction or pressure from certain clothing materials, equipment, straps from backpacks, tight-fitting clothes, and hats that may trap heat against the body. 

Acne mechanica is also known as sports-induced acne, as it is common with athletes.

A common method used to reduce symptoms of acne mechanica is to limit the impact on the already-irritated area as much as possible. Since sweat is one of the major factors required for this type of acne to appear, it is often helpful to shower immediately after exercising or as soon as discomfort appears. Keep in mind, however, that aggressive scrubbing may worsen symptoms.

On the positive side, acne mechanica usually passes in a mild form and does not typically leave permanent scars.

Acne scars

When an active acne condition is not treated properly it may result in permanent scarring. The scars are caused by severely inflamed lesions that prompt the body to repair the broken tissue. While the wound is healing, the body sometimes produces too much or too little collagen, which creates an uneven texture. 

There are two general types of acne-related scars: atrophic and hypertrophic.

Atrophic acne scars

Atrophic scars, also known as depressed scars, are the most common facial scars caused by acne. They appear when the body does not produce enough collagen during the healing process, leaving the scar to fall below the surrounding skin.

The three types of atrophic scars are ice pick, boxcar and rolling.

Ice picks are the deepest acne scars. As the name suggests, they look like punctures in the skin. Ice picks are the hardest type of scar to treat because they may extend far beneath the surrounding skin level.

Boxcar scars are like ice pick scars, but are broader and normally shallower. The shallower the scar, the easier it typically is to treat it effectively.

Rolling scars are typically characterized by their smooth edges and rolling appearance. They also tend to be fairly shallow.

Hypertrophic acne scars

Hypertrophic scars are the opposite of atrophic ones. When too much collagen is produced, the new tissue rises higher than the surrounding skin. Such scars usually appear as a result of back or chest acne.

Sometimes, the healing process leaves behind dark spots that are not considered scars. This type of brown, red, or purple discoloration usually fades away after a few months.

Acne scar treatment should be started as soon as the condition has developed. To avoid turning pimples into scars, be sure to wash your face regularly to avoid excess oil build-up. Also, you should overcome the temptation to pop pimples, which can send infection deeper into the follicle and is very likely to worsen the condition.

Acne treatment and CBD

Acne is an extremely common skin condition, so there are a vast variety of OTC acne medications to help you deal with it. If you are suffering from acne of medium or high severity, a dermatologist can provide a professional opinion before you initiate self-treatment with products such as acne cream.

Mild acne conditions, fortunately, are almost always easily treatable. However, given the number of options available it can be difficult to choose the best acne-fighting product.

If you are looking for a clean and 100% organic product, a CBD cream might be just what you need. But does CBD work for acne?

CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, a natural compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it does not provide the mind-altering effects typically associated with cannabis. 

Although CBD oils are not typically marketed as acne-preventing products, researchers are focusing on proving the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects that CBD oils may provide. Since acne is caused by the combination of excessive oil production and dirt clogged in follicles, CBD products may provide relief from the symptoms.

There are suggestions that CBD oil can be beneficial for treatment skin conditions such as acne. Several studies have explored the effect of CBD oils on sebocytes, which are the cells responsible for the sebum creation. Researchers aim to determine whether CBD may be preventing the cells from creating too much sebum, which may then limit the spread and severity of acne.

Additional research is being conducted that explores potential anti-inflammatory effects of CBD oils that may prevent inflammatory cytokines from activating. Cytokines are known to cause some cases of acne and reducing the amount may prevent the spreading of infection.

Further research is also investigating the antibacterial effect of cannabis, which may reduce the number of dirt-associated infections.

In addition to the benefits of CBD oil, CBD cream also includes Melaleuca Alternifolia essential oil, commonly known as tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is often used to limit the type of inflammation that causes some forms of acne. According to studies, tea tree oil may relieve the symptoms associated with mild to moderate cases of acne when applied topically.

Another reason to consider using a CBD topical cream is the use of 100% organic ingredients. Why does organic skincare matter? In recent years, more people are turning to a healthier way of living. The benefits of eating organic food are well known, so the use of other organic products through application to the skin or ingestion through other means is a natural way to continue developing healthy habits. Using a cleaner skin product with no genetically modified organisms (GMOs), no chemicals, and no synthetics should result in cleaner skin, which is the best prevention against acne and the complications associated with it.

How to use CBD products for acne treatment

CBD is available in multiple forms, such as oils, capsules and even gummy bears. However, if you want to treat a skin condition we recommend choosing a CBD cream that is organic and has been tested in a third-party laboratory.

A CBD cream can be used daily or as advised by your healthcare provider. Most of our customers apply it topically to the affected areas on which they feel they need relief.

Although some evidence suggests CBD oils may be effective for acne relief, attempts to treat any acne associated with pain or sensitivity to the touch should be discussed with a licensed dermatologist before treatment.