Almost everyone at some point in their life will receive a not-so-nice hello from a breakout but, for some people, acne can be a daily battle. Acne can be very painful and can occur on different parts of the body but it is most common on the face and back. If acne is untreated or treated incorrectly this can lead to scarring. Acne is generally considered to be a problem for teens or young adults but it can also continue to affect us as we get older.

What causes Acne?

Our skin naturally sheds dead skin cells which helps with skin health and appearance. Skin cell turnover on average can take around 28-40 days for the new cells to form but this process slows down as we get older. When the dead skin is not removed, the follicles in the skin become blocked which leads to do an increased production of sebum and bacteria that become trapped.  This is when we start to see pustules (pus-filled spots), papules (under the skin spots) and blackheads.

There are many factors that contribute to acne and these can be different in adults and teens.

Adult acne which is most common in women is due to the increase in busy lifestyles (although perhaps not so much in 2020!), hormonal changes, chronic stress and an ever more polluted environment. As we know, cell turnover slows with age so healing from breakouts is much slower than when we were teenagers. Adult acne breakouts tend to be inflamed, red and predominantly located around the mouth, chin and jaw line. Treating adult acne can be more difficult because there is usually more sensitivity and dehydration.

Teen acne causes are part-genetic, hormonal and very much related to puberty. Teens who suffer from acne will typically have breakouts on the face, chest and back. They also have more white head and black heads than adults do. These breakouts often appear because androgens, which are the male hormones that both girls and boys have, surge during adolescence therefore causing an increase in sebum production. Cell turnover is faster in teens and their skin is more resilient than adults’ which means they recover quicker from breakouts. Acne tends to improve after the teen years because hormonal changes balance and no longer aggravate breakouts.

What can CBD do for adult acne?

There are many products on the market to help treat acne including over the counter creams and antibiotics that can be prescribed by a doctor but recent studies have shown that CBD might be a solution to tackling the prevention of acne in the first place.

We have an Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in our bodies which regulates our organs and our biggest organ is……our skin.  This contains numerous cannabinoid receptors onto which plant-derived cannabinoids can dock and exert their influence.

Home treatments for acne tend to be just that – treatments, generally creams or ointments applied externally to affected areas.  There is growing evidence that creams containing CBD may also be effective in this regard but an interesting theory around how CBD might help from the inside, tackling the problem at source, when taken in the form of CBD oil or CBD gummies.

As we know hormonal changes and imbalance is a key factor behind acne but CBD is believed to have the effect of regulating hormone levels. Our ECS also helps to control the endocrine process (hormonal processes) in the body through its interaction with cannabinoids – including plant-based cannabinoids such as CBD that we consume.  Stress levels can also be another contributory cause of  acne and stress can be due to increased levels of cortisol. Research has shown that CBD connects with the endocrine system and helps to regulate the formation of cortisol therefore minimising our stress levels and, in turn, perhaps reducing our propensity to acne.

Externally, CBD may be applied to acne through creams, salves and oils. A Hungarian study carried out at the University of Debrecen investigated the effects of CBD on cell cultures of human sebaceous glands. The study showed that CBD can regulate over-productive sebaceous glands therefore reducing excess sebum. CBD is now considered a sebostatic agent. Reducing the oil production will balance the skin without drying it out. The same study also found CBD has an anti-inflammatory effect on breakouts.

There are many conventional acne treatments that work but, very often, they have inconvenient side effects such as drying your skin or simply needing to keep using them.  We can’t guarantee that  CBD will help everyone to reduce the appearance of acne and achieve healthier looking skin but what we do know is that CBD has few, if any, side effects and ongoing research shows that its benefits could extend into several different areas. So perhaps it’s worth a try it?