We’ve all heard the expression ‘feeling comfortable in your own skin.’
For people with inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, rosacea, acne, and psoriasis, that can be a challenge. The physical discomfort as well as unwelcome appearance of these conditions can often cause distress.
The Global Burden of Disease project has repeatedly shown that skin diseases continue to be the 4th leading cause of nonfatal disease burden world-wide. The three most prevalent conditions causing burden are melanoma (highest), followed by psoriasis and dermatitis.
When it comes to inflammatory skin disorders and their symptoms, it’s good for us to first obtain a better understanding of how our skin functions.
Our skin, which is the body’s largest organ, provides an excellent barrier to protect us. This is called the skin barrier function, but also commonly known as the acid mantle because our skin has a naturally acidic pH.
This barrier is situated in our uppermost layer of the skin, and is mostly composed of large skin cells, keratinocytes, which play multiple roles essential for skin repair. These keratinocytes migrate, proliferate, and differentiate to restore the epidermal barrier.
Essentially, the skin barrier prevents the good stuff getting out, and the bad stuff getting in. It’s a watertight seal that helps the body to hold onto natural moisture by preventing transepidermal water loss.
If the top layer of the epidermis does not contain enough water, the skin will lose elasticity and appear dry, rough, and flaky. Poorly hydrated skin is also unable to maintain an intact skin barrier, leaving the skin more vulnerable to damage.
Inflammatory skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, acne and rosacea, almost always have an impaired skin barrier function. This further contributes to worsening the symptoms of the condition.
These inflammatory conditions can be caused, and exacerbated by a variety and/or combination of immune system activation, genetics, environmental triggers, illness, stress, injury to the skin, bacterial/viral infection, allergies, overuse of harsh exfoliants, and occupational influences.
Disruption in the core functions of the skin barrier can present as chronic skin irritation, redness, puffiness, itchy, dehydrated and dull skin, hyperpigmentation, skin infections, and delayed wound healing.
The good news is that there is much you can do to tame the inflammation!
Incorporating targeted daily skincare topicals containing CBD is key. CBD increases the activity of the skin’s endocannabinoid system. (ECS) This makes the ECS more effective at treating immune-related and inflammatory issues such as allergic reactions, acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and rosacea.
Cannabis is also packed full of omega 3 and 6. Omegas are super foods for repairing and maintaining a healthy skin barrier function. ‘The addition of various essential fatty acid-rich oils can modulate the inflammatory response in both dermal and epidermal layers of the skin.’ (Giana Angelo, Ph.D. Oregon State University 2012) By keeping the cell membranes healthy, and facilitating good communication between cells, skin hydration is achieved.
CBD as a compound can also help to neutralise free radical damage by acting as an antioxidant. Healthy functioning cells equals healthy skin.
My philosophy is always ‘start with the basics’ of good, focused skincare at home. You need a effective skin barrier before you can address any other skin concerns. First be kind to your skin.
Over the course of the next few months I will be addressing inflammatory skin conditions with specific guidelines and suggestions as to how best manage it at home, with CBD at the core of reducing inflammation.
Sarah Daly is a dermal aesthetic therapist and salon owner with over 20 years experience in treating every skin type and skin concern.