cbd oil for scalp psoriasis

Can CBD Relieve Psoriasis Symptoms? Here’s What Doctors Are Saying

With all of the headlines pointing to the healing powers of cannabidiol (CBD)—one of more than 80 chemical compounds in the cannabis plant—it’s natural to wonder: Can using CBD oil help relieve psoriasis symptoms?

The reviews are mixed. While there’s anecdotal evidence that CBD oil, with its far-ranging anti-inflammatory properties, can help treat this autoimmune disease affecting some 7.5 million Americans, studies to date remain inconclusive.

This isn’t to say that CBD oil shouldn’t be considered as an additional treatment option for psoriasis patients who experience plaque psoriasis—which causes dry, raised, and red skin lesions (or plaques) covered with silvery scales on body areas such as the back of the elbows, over the kneecaps, and on the lower back.

In fact, the preliminary science investigating the ways that CBD, the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant, can help treat eczema and psoriasis shows some promise, says Jordan Tishler, MD, a physician and cannabis expert in Boston.

“However, while these studies are generally encouraging, they’re nowhere near conclusive,” Dr. Tishler tells Health.

What we need to learn about how CBD might work

Although clinical research connecting the health benefits of CBD oil to cannabis is slow to materialize, there’s still a lot of patient-driven interest in whether CBD, which can be used as an oil, balm, cream, or salve, can help treat psoriasis.

Some studies have been encouraging, including one study conducted in 2007, which found that cannabinoids, including CBD, slowed down the growth and division of skin cells involved in psoriatic skin rashes.

“We know that cannabinoids like CBD can reduce inflammation and pain,” David Casarett, MD, chief of palliative care at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, tells Health. “Again, what we’re seeing right now is that most of the evidence is circumstantial but promising.”

Another very small study of psoriasis patients conducted in 2019 is equally compelling. The study was led by researchers in Italy and showed that applying topical CBD-enriched ointment on psoriatic skin did help to reduce psoriasis symptoms.

In the study, five psoriasis patients applied CBD ointment to those areas of their skin affected by psoriasis twice a day for three months. After that time, researchers concluded that the ointment was not only safe and effective but it improved the quality of life for psoriasis patients.

How CBD might improve daily life

In addition to helping to treat skin itching and irritation, CBD may also help psoriasis patients control pain and reduce inflammation.

That’s why Hervé Damas, MD, a physician at Grassroots Medicine and Wellness, a cannabis medical practice in Miami, says he uses CBD—which has few side effects and is considered safe overall—as a part of the psoriasis treatment plans he recommends for his patients.

“For dermatological issues such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema, I’ve found CBD to be very effective at decreasing the flare-ups, irritation, and discomfort my patients experience,” he tells Health. “Depending on the severity of the disease, I will use either topical creams or a combination of topical and systemic treatments.”

However, other experts aren’t convinced that CBD oil is as effective as current therapies, which include topical steroid creams and ointments, topical vitamin D creams, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory creams, and ultraviolet light therapy. In addition, psoriasis patients may also take immunosuppressant medications, like cyclosporine and methotrexate, and newer biologic medications to treat their symptoms.

“The effects of cannabis are relatively weak compared to topical steroids like hydrocortisone,” says Dr. Tishler. “In short, at this time I would not recommend any topical cannabis or CBD products to treat a serious illness like psoriasis.”

In the end, since the exact nature of how CBD works to help treat psoriasis remains unknown and psoriasis is a serious skin condition, consider this our best advice: Until more studies are done on CBD and psoriasis, be sure to speak with your dermatologist to plan a treatment course that’s right for you.

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How CBD Oil and Topicals Can Help Psoriasis

More than 8 million Americans live with psoriasis—a chronic autoimmune condition. People with psoriasis experience an overactive immune system that makes their skin cells grow too quickly, and this in turn causes red, scaly, painful patches of skin cells to build up. These plaques are ugly, itchy, and disruptive.

Psoriasis is incurable, so the only option is to treat the symptoms and find ways to cope. For those millions of people who are searching for options to help control their symptoms, CBD for psoriasis is a new source of hope.

In this post, we’ll explore an overview of Psoriasis and why it’s so tough to cope with. We’ll talk about the challenges of treating psoriasis, including with topicals. We’ll also discuss treating psoriasis with CBD, and why CBD has so much potential in this area. Finally, we’ll recommend the best CBD cream for psoriasis that we’ve tried so far.

Overview of Psoriasis

For people with psoriasis, a lifetime of itching is in store—I’m here to tell you. Right now as I sit here typing this, my skin is itching so much, I almost can’t stand it, but for me, that’s pretty normal.

Most patients with psoriasis will have it for life because it’s an incurable, chronic autoimmune disease, although there will be times when it’s better or flare-ups when it is worse. Medications are available, many of them topical and designed to soothe irritation and reduce inflammation. They are sometimes kind of helpful, but ask anyone with psoriasis: they don’t stop the problem. Nothing does.

Women have a worse problem with psoriasis overall because fluctuations in hormones can and do cause shifts in psoriasis symptoms, and this often causes women to experience flare-ups during and after pregnancy. In fact, many women experience a psoriasis flare-up just after delivery.

Psoriatic arthritis is caused by inflammation and affects about 30 percent of psoriasis patients. Elevated levels of inflammation can also cause complications such as typical arthritis, heart disease, thyroid issues, diabetes, and kidney problems in people with psoriasis. For all of these reasons, it’s important for people with psoriasis to watch cholesterol levels and maintain their weight.

There are even numerous food triggers for psoriasis patients; many people with the disorder cannot eat things like processed or junk foods, eggs, citrus, red meat, tomatoes, dairy, or alcohol without flare-ups. (This article is being written by an involuntary vegan.) In other words, psoriasis truly affects every aspect of your life.

Foods that are high in antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables may help fight oxidative stress and inflammation, so these are recommended for patients with psoriasis and other autoimmune conditions. Some patients benefit from eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish like sardines and salmon which may reduce inflammation in the body. Anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric and oils like coconut or olive are another natural option to try—but either way, you’ll be altering your diet.

The worst part about something like psoriasis, from someone who deals with it, is the mental health impact and social consequences. It can be embarrassing and stressful. Yes, I’m used to the staring and questions—and still they stress me out. And guess what? Stress makes it worse.

So, all of this should point to a few factors for you:

  1. Living with psoriasis isn’t easy. In fact, it sucks. It touches every part of your day, and causes tremendous quality of life issues.
  2. There’s no cure for psoriasis but every reason to try things that might work and won’t hurt.
  3. Everyone with psoriasis dreams of that day they walk outside in shorts or whatever and never have to worry about it again.

So, this is why CBD for psoriasis is now a trend: necessity.

Symptoms of Psoriasis

Symptoms and signs of psoriasis vary from person to person, but typically they include:

  • Red skin patches covered with scales that are thick and silvery
  • Smaller, scaly spots of skin
  • Cracked, dry skin that may itch or bleed
  • Burning, itching, or soreness
  • Pitted, thickened, or ridged nails
  • Stiff and swollen joints

Patches of psoriasis can vary from a few small spots of scaly skin that resemble dandruff to serious eruptions that cover major portions of the body. The ankles, elbows, face, knees (front and back), legs, lower back, palms, scalp, and soles of the feet are the most commonly affected areas of the body.

Most kinds of psoriasis flare up for a few weeks or months in cycles and then subside or even go into remission.

Types of Psoriasis

There are multiple kinds of psoriasis, including:

Plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is the most common type, causing dry, red, raised patches of skin covered with silvery scales called lesions. The plaques might be few or numerous; tender, itchy or both; and they typically appear on the knees, elbows, scalp, and lower back.

Erythrodermic psoriasis. Although it is the least common type of psoriasis, because it can cover the entire body with a peeling, red rash that can burn or itch intensely, erythrodermic psoriasis is one of the more serious varieties.

Guttate psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis is characterized by small, scaling lesions shaped like drops on the arms, legs, or trunk. Typically triggered by strep throat or some other bacterial infection, this variety of psoriasis primarily affects children and young adults.

Inverse psoriasis. Inverse psoriasis mainly affects skin folds near the breasts, groin, and buttocks, and it causes smooth patches of red skin that sweating and friction make worse. This kind of psoriasis can be triggered by fungal infections.

Nail psoriasis. Nail psoriasis can cause abnormal growth, pitting, and discoloration in fingernails and toenails. Psoriatic nails can result in onycholysis, where the nails loosen and separate from the nail bed. In severe cases of psoriasis, the nail can crumble.

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Psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis causes painful swelling in any joint, ranging from mild to severe, just like typical arthritis. Symptoms vary, and joint symptoms or nail changes may be the only signs of psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis can progressively damage the joints—in the most serious cases, permanently.

Pustular psoriasis. Pustular psoriasis is a rare variety occurring either in widespread patches as generalized pustular psoriasis or in smaller patches on the soles of the feet or the palms of the hands. The patches themselves consist of pus-filled lesions that are clearly defined, similar to blisters.

Causes and Triggers of Psoriasis

Psoriasis, like similar skin disorders, is considered to be an immune system disorder. It triggers the skin to regenerate too quickly, and in plaque psoriasis, which is the most common type, this too-rapid cell turnover causes red, scaly patches of skin.

What causes the immune system to react this way remains unclear, although psoriasis is definitely not contagious or dangerous to others. Right now, scientists think that both environmental and genetic factors may play a role.

Triggers are an issue for people with psoriasis. In fact, many people who may be predisposed to psoriasis experience wellness and have no symptoms for years until some environmental factor triggers the disease.

Some common psoriasis triggers are:

  • Stress
  • Skin injury, including a bug bite, a scrape or cut, a burn, or a severe sunburn
  • Infections, either of the skin, or systemic such as strep throat
  • Weather, particularly dry, cold conditions
  • Heavy consumption of alcohol
  • Rapid withdrawal of corticosteroids
  • Exposure to smoke, from smoking, secondhand smoke, and wildfire
  • Certain medications, including antimalarial drugs, lithium, and high blood pressure medications

Risk factors for Psoriasis

Although anyone can develop psoriasis, there are several risk factors according to the NIH. Some you can control more than others:

  • Family history. Having one or more parents with psoriasis increases your risk of getting the disease because it runs in families.
  • Smoking. Smoking may play a part in the development and onset of psoriasis, so your initial risk, and it may also increase the severity of psoriasis once you get it.
  • Stress. High levels of stress, which can affect the immune system, can increase your risk of psoriasis.

Beyond psoriatic arthritis, complications from psoriasis include:

  • Other autoimmune diseases such as sclerosis, celiac disease, and the inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn’s disease
  • Eye conditions, such as blepharitis, conjunctivitis, and uveitis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions

Challenges of Treating Psoriasis

Basically, this is an ongoing war—a series of battles you fight your whole life. You look for the weapons that work best against psoriasis for your body, and you add them to your arsenal. You avoid the triggers that make it worse and hope they’re not everywhere.

Here are some of the treatment options and how they work.


Non-medicated moisturizing products for the skin and bath, such as mineral oil, body creams, moisturizers, bath bombs, and petroleum jelly may reduce the dryness and soothe affected skin from psoriatic plaques.

Medicated topicals are also available in a wide variety, and applying them directly to plaques of psoriatic skin can help reduce skin turn over and inflammation, remove built-up scale, and clear affected skin of plaques. Some common active ingredients for creams and ointments intended for psoriasis include coal tar, corticosteroids like desoximetasone (Topicort), dithranol (anthralin), vitamin D3analogues (for example, calcipotriol), fluocinonide, and retinoids. Each works a bit differently, but they all reduce inflammation and help to normalize skin cell production.


Approaches to UV light therapy such as psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) and UVB phototherapy can reduce psoriasis symptoms effectively for some people. However, you need several sessions per week, which takes time, effort, and money. Also, long-term light therapy can increase your risk of skin cancer.

Systemic Agents

You might try a systemic agent against psoriasis that resists both topical treatment and phototherapy—that’s a medication you take as a pill or injection. Only people with regular blood and liver function can handle this kind of medication, and if you might become pregnant, you should avoid it. If you ever stop taking your systemic treatment, your psoriasis will probably come back.

There are three primary systemic medications usually used to treat psoriasis: cyclosporine, methotrexate, and retinoids. Cyclosporine and methotrexate are immunosuppressant drugs that work by suppressing and regulating the unhealthy overactive immune system action. However, ulcerations are a risk for patients taking methotrexate.

Retinoids are synthetic forms of vitamin A that can help speed up the skin cell shedding and growth cycle so plaques don’t build up as much. However, retinoids can also make your skin more sensitive and can decrease in effectiveness over time.

For those that have insurance, access to a doctor to inject them, and don’t mind continuing a new therapy for the rest of their lives, biologics are a promising option. These manufactured proteins interrupt the immune overreactions that characterize psoriasis, but in a very specific way. These are very new drugs, so their long-term impact on immune function is unknown, and they must be given by a doctor in-office.

There are also newer laser systems approved to treat psoriasis on the scalp. Obviously, these are an in-office option only, too.

Alternative Therapies for Psoriasis

So, you’ve tried everything and you’re in the same boat as most people with psoriasis: you can either try systemic therapy forever—with varying levels of success and cost, by the way—or you can try something else and hope it works to improve your quality of life.

Fortunately, some research does suggest that changes in diet, skincare routine, and lifestyle can at least help relieve psoriasis symptoms.

Various research studies have found benefits in diets supplemented with fish oils, low energy diets, fasting periods, and vegetarian diets. Fish oils in particular contain Vitamin E and are rich in the two omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Some fish oils also contain vitamin A and vitamin D.

Lifestyle habits also definitely impact psoriasis—at least how severe it is. It may not cure your psoriasis to stop smoking, limit your alcohol consumption, maintain a normal weight, get regular exercise and a good night’s sleep, and manage your stress, but it will probably lessen the severity of your symptoms. (If you figure out how to do all that, please let us know how in the comments.)

Furthermore, hypnotherapy may be an effective treatment for psoriasis if you have access to it where you are and can afford it.

There are a few other alternative therapies out there that get a little less…accessible. For example, researchers have found that the Indigo naturalis plant used in traditional Chinese medicine, also called Qing dai, may be effective in treating psoriasis.

And some spas in Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Serbia, and Turkey offer ichthyotherapy, in which you sit in a pool full of “doctor fish” that eat your icky psoriatic skin. Apparently the outdoor thermal springs these doctor fish live in also have their own beneficial effect, and that’s good because you have to keep going back to the skin-eating spa. (Sorry, this one has an ick factor for us—but then so does psoriasis, so whatever works!)

Our point is this: treatments are tough, expensive, and only somewhat effective. There is plenty of room for a natural remedy that provides more relief.

Can CBD Reduce Symptoms of Psoriasis?

Given that CBD is a proven immune-modulator and anti-inflammatory, it makes sense that it would be a workable treatment option against psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that induces inflammation.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body is a naturally-occurring network of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors that regulates homeostasis. Since homeostasis is a balancing act in the body and psoriasis is evidence of certain physiological processes that are out of control, achieving and maintaining homeostasis is of interest here.

One particular study highlights the role of cutaneous cannabinoids in suppressing inflammation and excess growth in the skin’s epithelial layers. Another study connects these skin layers to onset psoriasis and the functional ECS system, describing the way the skin’s cannabinoid receptors help control and balance how the skin cells proliferate.

In other words, research indicates that the layers of human skin contain a functional endocannabinoid system, and cannabinoids act to reduce inflammation along the specific psoriatic pathway in the skin. The science does support CBD as a possible treatment option for psoriasis.

Furthermore, CBD has been proven to effectively treat depression, anxiety, and related mental health issues. These are often connected to psoriasis, so CBD could have additional benefits for these users.

How CBD Oil Works to Alleviate Symptoms of Psoriasis

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to regulate stasis in skin cells, including their immune competence, reproduction, and survival. Pathological skin diseases and conditions such as allergic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis arise when this balance is disrupted.

The CB1 and CB2 receptors are the two primary receptors in the ECS, with CB1 receptors found all over the body and CB2 receptors found mostly in immune system cells. Both endocannabinoids naturally-occurring in the body and phytocannabinoids, which are created by the Cannabis sativa plant, bind with the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD are the most notable phytocannabinoids. THC is the intoxicating ingredient of the cannabis plant which may get its users high.

Cannabinoids such as CBD are anti-inflammatories, and are therefore a potential treatment for a range of skin diseases. Cannabinoids, especially THC, are also immunosuppressive and reduce cytokines. Cytokines cause inflammation and rapid skin cell development, and psoriasis itself is an immunosuppressive disorder, making cannabinoids and THC of particular interest to psoriasis sufferers.

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Another study found that cannabinoids inhibit psoriasis lesions, also called keratinocytes, from growing as rapidly. In addition, research indicates that the way the ECS moderates interactions between the CNS and the immune system suggests cannabinoids as a psoriasis treatment. In fact, a range of science suggests that cannabinoid products might be used to treat various skin diseases such as eczema, acne, and even skin cancer, along with psoriasis.

The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Psoriasis

Studies have found that CBD has health benefits for those with psoriasis.

The Pros:

Topical steroids are among the primary traditional medications for psoriasis, and long-term use of them can and often does result in changes in pigmentation, thinning of the skin, easy bruising, stretch marks, dilated blood vessels, and redness. You might switch to oral steroids to avoid those issues, but using them long-term can cause acne, bone fractures, cataracts, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, increased risk of infections, liver damage, obesity, osteoporosis, and poor wound healing.

CBD, on the other hand, has minimal side effects, including tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite or weight. According to the World Health Organization, CBD is also non-addictive. Across the United States, where state laws permit it, the 2018 Farm Bill has made CBD legal at the federal level, and you can buy CBD products without a prescription.

The Cons

There is more than one kind of psoriasis, and the less common varieties have been studied less—especially in the context of CBD.

The United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved CBD for treating epilepsy. For this reason, there is no standard dosage of CBD for treating psoriasis.

CBD may inhibit Cytochrome P450 enzymes which metabolize steroids. This could make it less effective to use CBD and steroid medications together.

Again, related to the lack of regulation of CBD products, some are not adequately or accurately labeled. This alone can present a trigger danger for someone with psoriasis.

CBD vs Other Alternative Psoriasis Treatments

There are other potential natural remedies for psoriasis, which may be more or less effective depending on the patient and the situation:

  • Some have used dead sea bath salts to treat psoriasis.
  • Turmeric has proven anti-inflammatory properties, although they are limited.

Compared to steroids, CBD has no adverse reactions and minimal side effects. And in contrast to turmeric and dead sea salt or even light therapy, CBD produces a suite of benefits to relieve related ailments such as depression and psoriatic arthritis.

Is it better to use a CBD topical cream vs a CBD oil for psoriasis?

Since flare-ups of psoriasis can be triggered by many things, like illness, stress, and external factors like allergies, it’s not always easy to know which form of CBD might provide the most relief during an episode. Here are some things to consider.

The skin on the face is delicate and sensitive, not to mention prone to acne. If you’re experiencing psoriasis on the face and want to treat it topically, consider a CBD product specifically formulated for the face. Or, this might be a time to try CBD oil.

The same type of question arises when the issue is psoriasis of the scalp, which can be itchy and uncomfortable like dandruff, even though those products are often not right for the problem. You need to care for your hair, but the pain and burning are the more immediate problem. You want either CBD products that will soothe the scalp, or at least not irritate it, or a CBD oil to take orally.

When stress is triggering psoriasis flare-ups, aim for the right kind of CBD for managing your relaxation. Many users find CBD oil helps as a preventative and then use a CBD vape for acute issues. For psoriasis patients triggered by immune issues, CBD oil or CBD edibles are often similarly the best preventative strategy.

CBD comes in many forms, including:

  • capsules and softgels
  • edibles, such as beverages, candy, gummies, snacks, and other foods
  • oils and tinctures
  • topicals, such as balms, creams, lotions, and more (What is CBD lotion and cream? Learn more in our full post)
  • vaporizers

Which type of CBD is best for psoriasis? There is no one answer—find what works for you personally.

Remember, before you start anything new for psoriasis (or any health condition), you should talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider. Although CBD is widely understood to be safe, the industry is poorly regulated. Look for third-party testing results, and remember that if you substitute CBD for some other medication, that may have an impact on your health.

How to Choose the Right CBD for Psoriasis

Beyond everything else that we’ve said, there are a few more things to consider. First, there are three basic types of CBD oils:

Full-spectrum CBD oil uses all the natural components found in cannabis plants including hemp plants. This means natural essential oils, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids as well as cannabinoids will all be in that CBD product, including trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Together, the active phytonutrients produce the entourage effect, a synergistic suite of therapeutic benefits.

Broad-spectrum CBD oil is a version of full-spectrum CBD oil with all traces of THC removed.

CBD isolates contain only isolated cannabidiol and are extracted down from the rest. You can be sure nothing is in there except the CBD and whatever it is suspended in (along with whatever they’ve added intentionally, of course—just no extra cannabinoids or terpenes).

How CBD Balm can Help Psoriasis Symptoms

Millions of people around the world have to live with psoriasis as part of their daily lives. Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease, and it is chronic in its nature. Those who suffer with psoriasis often have an overactive immune system which causes skin cells to grow faster than they should. This results in the skin becoming red, scaly and extremely painful patches of skin begin to build up. The areas of skin that are impacted by psoriasis are itchy, disruptive and quite unseemly.

Unfortunately, psoriasis is not a curable condition and the only option sufferers have is to treat the symptoms of the condition and learn how to best live with their condition. CBD balm offers a potential treatment for those suffering with psoriasis and help with inflammation and symptom management. This article will go on to identify exactly what psoriasis is, its symptoms and causes and specifically how CBD balm can offer relief that cannot be found elsewhere.

What is Psoriasis?

Those who are afflicted by the condition will have to endure a lifetime of itching. Most people with psoriasis will have to find a way to manage their symptoms for the duration of their life as it is incurable. There are medications available such as topical steroid creams and other medical creams formulated to soothe the skin and reduce irritation. While they can be effective in the short term, they are often ineffective when used over an extended period of time.

Women often have greater problems with psoriasis because of fluctuations in hormones and it is these hormones that cause flare-ups, pregnant women are particularly susceptible to flare-ups.

Psoriatic arthritis affects about 30% of psoriasis patients and is caused by inflammation. The elevated levels of inflammation cause complications such as osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems and thyroid issues. For these reasons, it is imperative that psoriasis sufferers manage their cholesterol and ensure that they are not overweight.

Certain foods can trigger psoriasis so managing your diet is vital. Eating junk foods, dairy and drinking alcohol can be a major factor in initiating flare-ups. Foods that have a lot of antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables can help fight oxidative inflammation and this is why eating fresh fruit and veg is crucial if you have psoriasis. There are also reports of there being positive effects from eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like fish such as salmon and sardines which can reduce inflammation in the body. There are also spices like turmeric which can act as an anti-inflammatory as well as oils like olive oil and coconut oil.

The mental health impact of psoriasis can be appalling, and it can damage your confidence and affect your personal relationships. Psoriasis can be embarrassing and cause insecurity, ultimately inhibiting how you live your life, which is incredibly sad. It can also have a detrimental impact on your sleeping pattern.

What are the Symptoms of Psoriasis?

The symptoms of psoriasis vary on an individual basis, but traditionally they include:

  • Red skin
  • Red skin patches that are covered in scales
  • Cracked & dry skin
  • Itching
  • Bleeding of the skin
  • Burning itch
  • Soreness
  • Thickened nails
  • Stiff and swollen joints

The red patches of psoriasis can vary from just a few small spots of scaly skin that are similar in appearance to dandruff, to extraordinarily serious outbreaks that cover the majority of the body. The arms, elbows, ankles and knees are all commonly effected.

What are the Different Types of Psoriasis?

Although most people are unaware of this, there are actually a number of different types of psoriasis, each with their own unique set of characteristics. The most prominent types of psoriasis are:

  • Plaque Psoriasis – This is the most common form of psoriasis. This is characterised by dry, red lesions covering the skin. They may range from being few in number, to plentiful and they may be tender or itchy (maybe even both, if you’re unlucky). They can most often be found on the scalp, elbows, lower back and knees.
  • Pustular Psoriasis – This is one of the least common varieties of psoriasis. Pustular psoriasis can occur both in smaller patches and widespread patches. The lesions are filled with pus and look similar to blisters. They frequently occur on the soles of the feet, or the palms of the hands.
  • Inverse Psoriasis – Inverse psoriasis causes smoother patches of red skin than other types of psoriasis, however these are aggravated but sweating and friction. These patches usually occur near the breasts, bottom and groin. Inverse psoriasis can also be triggered by fungal infections.
  • Erythrodermic Psoriasis – This is the rarest variety of psoriasis. That said, it is undoubtedly one of the most severe and debilitating variants. Erythrodermic psoriasis has the potential to cover the entire body with a serious red rash that causes intense burning and itching.
  • Nail Psoriasis – Nail psoriasis, unsurprisingly, affects both the fingernails and toenails. Not only can it cause discolouration and abnormal growth, but it can also cause nails to loosen, separate and even crumble. This is known as onycholysis.
  • Guttate Psoriasis – Guttate psoriasis is most common in children and teenagers. It is characterised by small scaly patches of skin, shaped like teardrops and most commonly found on the arms and legs. It is generally triggered by bacterial infection.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis – Similar to typical arthritis, psoriatic arthritis causes painful swelling in joints. Over time, it causes increasingly severe damage to joints and in the most extreme instances, this damage can be permanent.
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What are the Causes of Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an immune system disorder and triggers the skin to regenerate at too fast a rate. In plaque psoriasis, the excessive speed of skin regeneration causes red, scaly skin. What causes the immune system to react in this manner is not clear. However, psoriasis is definitively not contagious. It is believed that both genetic and environmental factors play apart in psoriasis developing.

Triggers of psoriasis are a huge issue as they can take weeks to recover from. Many people who are predisposed to psoriasis have no symptoms until an environmental factor triggers the condition.

Some common causes of psoriasis are:

  • Skin injury such as a bug bite or severe scratch
  • Sunburn
  • Burn
  • Stress
  • Weather, particularly dry, cold conditions
  • Heavy drinking
  • Withdrawal from corticosteroids
  • Exposure to smoke
  • Prescription medications like lithium, antimalarial drugs and high blood pressure medications

Risks for Psoriasis

Anybody can develop psoriasis, although there are several risk factors:

  • Family History – It is a genetic disease, so one or more parents with psoriasis would increase the likelihood that you will get it.
  • Smoking – Numerous studies have found links between smoking and the onset of psoriasis. It can also increase the seriousness of the disease if you do already have it.
  • Stress – High levels of stress can not only reduce the efficacy of your immune system, but also increase the risk of psoriasis.

Complications of psoriasis include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Other autoimmune diseases such as IBD and celiac disease
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

What are the Challenges of Treating Psoriasis?

Treating psoriasis is an ongoing challenge and you must stay on top of it and maintain your routine.

There are a few options.

Topicals – non-medicated moisturising products for the skin can reduce the dryness and soothe the affected skin from psoriatic plaques.

Medicated topicals, such as CBD balm, are widely available and applying them directly to the psoriatic skin can reduce skin turnover and inflammation. Some common active ingredients in these creams and ointments are coal tar, corticosteroids, dithranol and retinoids.

Systemic Agents – they can work against psoriasis that resists both topical treatment and phototherapy, that is a medication which is a pill or injection. Only those with regular blood and liver function can utilise this option and if you are pregnant, it is not advised.

The three primary systemic medications that are prescribed to treat psoriasis are cyclosporine, methotrexate and retinoids. Cyclosporine and methotrexate are immunosuppressant drugs that work by regulating the unhealthy overactive immune system. Ulcerations can be a negative side effect of using this method to treat psoriasis. Retinoids are a synthetic form of vitamin A and can speed up the skin cell shedding meaning that plaques of skin do not develop as quickly.

Can CBD Reduce the Symptoms of Psoriasis?

CBD is an immune-modulator and anti-inflammatory, this means that in theory it is a good to use if you have psoriasis. The endocannabinoid system in the body is a naturally occurring network of cannabinoid receptors that regulates homeostasis which is what keeps the human body in balance.

One study illustrates the role of cannabinoids in supressing inflammation and excessive growth in the skin’s epithelial layer. The research indicates that human skin contains a functional endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids act to reduce inflammation. CBD is supported by scientific evidence as a treatment for psoriasis. CBD balm in particular is extremely effective as it acts far quicker than any alternative CBD product. This is because you are applying the CBD directly on to the effected area.

How Does CBD Alleviate the Symptoms of Psoriasis?

Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis arise when the balance within the body is disrupted, and the endocannabinoid system plays an integral role in homeostasis. The CB1 & CB2 receptors are the two common receptors in the endocannabinoid system. The CB1 receptors are found throughout the body but CB2 receptors are mainly found in the immune system. Both endocannabinoids that are created within the body and phytocannabinoids such as CBD can bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD are the most common phytocannabinoids. THC is the cannabinoid that causes those who consume it to get high and experience psychological effects.

CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory and as a result can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions. THC is an immunosuppressive and reduce cytokines. Cytokines are a cause of inflammation and rapid skin cell development and psoriasis is an immunosuppressive disorder. Cannabinoids, in particular THC, could be of great help to those who suffer with psoriasis.

A study found that cannabinoids inhibit patient’s psoriasis legions from growing as quickly. The manner in which the endocannabinoid system moderates interactions between the central nervous system and the immune system suggests that cannabinoids can be a treatment for psoriasis. A range of studies suggest that cannabinoid treatments could be used to treat skin conditions like eczema and acne.

Should I use CBD Balm or CBD Oil to Treat Psoriasis?

There is undoubtedly a dizzying array of CBD delivery methods available to the consumer, from CBD patches, to CBD vape oil. The two most popular choices of treatment for psoriasis however, are undoubtedly CBD balm and CBD oil.

The instances in which you would opt for CBD balm or CBD oil is really dependent on the location of your outbreaks. As we now know, psoriasis breakouts can be caused by a wide range of triggers, dependent on the type of psoriasis that you are dealing with.

As is well known, the skin on our face is far more sensitive than other areas of the body and is also more susceptible to acne. If you are suffering with psoriasis on the face, it may be safer to opt for CBD oil over CBD balm. Similarly, it is impractical to apply CBD balm to the scalp, if this happens to be the affected area.

Aside from the above, it is widely accepted that applying CBD balm locally is more effective than taking CBD sublingually, or orally in oil or capsule form. This is because the CBD will immediately get to work on the area local to application, as well as providing an instant, soothing sensation.

It may also be worth combining CBD products. While CBD balm is more effective at treating topical conditions such as psoriasis, CBD vapes or CBD oils could be used simultaneously in order to tackle the root of the issue.

As examined earlier in the article, we know that there are a wide variety of triggers that can cause flare ups, such as stress and difficulties with the immune system. CBD vapes, or CBD oils would allow more CBD to enter your internal endocannabinoid system and combat these causes more effectively than a topical product. This is more of a preventative approach but when combined with something like CBD balm, this is where CBD’s full effects can be unleased.

Ultimately, there is no right answer to this question. It all depends on the circumstances of your own psoriasis, the particular triggers for your flare ups and the areas in which you are affected.


Research implies that CBD skincare products, such as CBD balm, hold great promise for psoriasis sufferers and many people with similar skin conditions. Its efficacy could also be enhanced by using a topical CBD product in conjunction with an oral, or sublingual CBD product.

CBD is an option that is certainly worth considering if you have severe skin problems and while it may not be a solution, it may be able to ease your symptoms.

On a final note, it is always important to ensure you speak to your doctor or GP prior to starting CBD treatment for psoriasis, or any condition for that matter.

To ensure you are receiving a high-quality product, we recommend that you request an independent third party lab report from the CBD vendor of your choice. This is a document produced by an independent laboratory that confirms the exact ingredients of the product that you wish to purchase. If you wish to buy CBD balm from Cannacares, we can provide you with this documentation.