Author: Luke Sholl

Can CBD Treat Sunburn?


Living an active lifestyle usually involves plenty of time spent outdoors, and what better time to embrace the great outdoors than during the summer holidays. While there's no end to the benefits for your mental and physical health, there is one potential downside to summer sun—sunburn. To find out the impact of sunburn, and how CBD could help tackle symptoms, keep reading.

What is sunburn?

Regardless of skin type or age, sunburn is a condition we've all experienced. Before you know it, what started as a well-deserved summer break in the sun turns into restless nights and inflamed skin. While sun creams can provide essential protection against UV rays, it isn't always enough. Sometimes we might need a higher factor, or we forget to re-apply after a dip in the pool. Either way, the outcome is the same—sunburn.

Sunburn is the skin's way of trying to repair the damage caused by prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB rays. For the most part, UVB rays are the main culprits of sunburn because their wavelength is shorter, causing damage to the outermost layer of skin.

The good news, however, is you don't have to suffer in silence! Instead, there are numerous remedies you can use to alleviate the discomfort caused by sunburn. And thanks to the abundance of cannabinoid receptors in our skin, one substance that has caught the attention of sun-worshippers and researchers alike is CBD.

Although CBD seems an unlikely candidate for treating sunburn, it already has several characteristics that could make it helpful in reducing the severity of sunburn symptoms. However, before we find out what those attributes are, it helps to take a closer look at the mechanisms of sunburn.

How sunburn works

As mentioned, sunburn is the skin's way of repairing itself after long periods of exposure to the sun. However, it isn't the sun's heat that burns skin, but UVA and UVB rays.

• UVA: With a longer wavelength, UVA penetrates beneath the skin's surface to trigger skin cell mutations, contributing to forms of cancer.

• UVB: Invisible to the naked eye, UVB rays are responsible for causing sunburn and most skin cancers. The shorter wavelength means they do the most damage to the outermost layer of the skin.

We experience sunburn as a delayed inflammatory response as the body attempts to repair the damage ultraviolet rays do to the skin. While we don't see the damage at the time, it can quickly build into dozens of debilitating symptoms.

What sunburn does to your skin

The impact of ultraviolet rays is felt immediately at a cellular level, but it can take up to 24 hours for symptoms to manifest. A moderate amount of sun can be beneficial, but too much can lead to the following:

• Inflammation
• Blisters
• Physical discomfort
• Peeling skin
• Itching
• Nausea
• Chills
• Fever
• Vomiting

If exposure is extensive, sunburn can cause nausea, headaches, and chills. Should these symptoms persist, or you experience fainting, then it's time to see a doctor. For most of us, the symptoms of sunburn will be on the milder side, but that doesn't stop them from being incredibly uncomfortable and disruptive.

How can CBD help treat sunburn?

Although specific research into the effects of CBD on sunburn is lacking, we can instead examine the results of CBD on various sunburn symptoms.

CBD and inflammation

To start, CBD has been somewhat extensively researched for its anti-inflammatory potential. To reduce the redness and sensitivity of sunburnt skin, we first need to reduce the body's inflammatory response. Published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, a study[1] explored CBD’s anti-inflammatory potential when used on an in vitro skin model.

A second research paper[2], this time from the Journal of Experimental Medicine, looked to determine if CBD could significantly suppress chronic inflammation and neuropathic pain. When you think back to our list of sunburn symptoms, both inflammation and physical discomfort made the top three—so far, so good for CBD.

CBD and skin peeling or itching

Even though sunburn's initial inflammation and discomfort usually fade after a few days, longer-lasting symptoms include dry, peeling skin and itchiness. While not as severe, they can still prove uncomfortable and distract you from enjoying much deserved time in the sun. Fortunately, CBD may help on these fronts too.

A comprehensive review[3] of CBD's therapeutic potential for skin health investigated several potential benefits: protecting membrane integrity, pain management, modulation of our itch response, and wound healing. There's still a lot to learn about this diverse list of mechanisms, but there's no doubt that CBD's role in soothing sunburn could be vast.

CBD and nausea or vomiting

It's unlikely that spending too much time in the sun will result in nausea, vomiting, or chills, but if it does, we highly recommend seeing a doctor first. Once the severity is assessed, you could consider CBD as a potential means to reduce stomach discomfort. Indeed, researchers have examined[4] CBD’s indirect modulation of 5-HT (serotonin) receptors to determine if it may suppress nausea.

What CBD products to pack for the summer holiday?

Combined, the research above suggests that the potential of CBD is vast—so vast, in fact, that it may soothe several symptoms of sunburnt skin. With that in mind, below are various CBD products worth considering for your next summer trip.

CBD creams

The majority of sunburn symptoms affect the skin, notably the outermost layer. Therefore, it makes sense to tackle symptoms directly by applying CBD topically. Fortunately for us, the skin is teeming with cannabinoid receptors, and many of CBD's potential effects come from its modulation of the endocannabinoid system and these receptors.

CBD creams from Cibdol include a sophisticated blend of CBD, colloidal oatmeal, and other naturally soothing ingredients. If you're someone that already suffers from a preexisting skin condition, CBD creams could be a valuable addition to your summer suitcase.

CBD beauty

CBD beauty products are a valuable addition to your existing skincare regime, and many creams, lotions, and gels include ingredients beneficial for treating sunburn. Aloe vera and sunflower oil can help reduce redness while restoring much-needed moisture. We've even formulated a CBD day cream with SPF 15 for added protection, and CBD night creams are helpful in soothing sensitivity and discomfort while you sleep.

CBD oil/capsules

Although most of our focus has been on addressing skin-related symptoms, CBD could be helpful in other ways too. Severe cases of sunburn can disrupt sleep, holiday activities, and overall confidence.

Regular consumption of CBD oil won't rectify these issues entirely, but it can help smooth out the mental highs and lows of dealing with sunburn. Ingested CBD is also a great way of bolstering your endocannabinoid system (ECS) and its links to the digestive, immune, and nervous systems.

No matter where you end up for your summer holidays, it's crucial you enjoy it to the fullest. Sun cream should always be your first line of defence against the damage the sun can cause. However, CBD might be the extra ingredient that lets you make the most of your time in the sun if you do get sunburnt.

If you need to stock up on high-quality CBD for the summer holidays, browse the Cibdol store for a complete selection of CBD creams, supplements, oils, and capsules. Or, if you want to learn more about the impact of CBD on our skin, find out what you need to know in our CBD Encyclopedia.

Luke Sholl

Cibdol lead writer

Luke Sholl
With over a decade of experience writing about CBD and cannabinoids, Luke is an established journalist working as the lead writer for Cibdol and other cannabinoid publications. Committed to presenting factual, evidence-based content, his fascination with CBD also extends to fitness, nutrition, and disease prevention.
Luke Sholl

Cibdol lead writer

Luke Sholl
With over a decade of experience writing about CBD and cannabinoids, Luke is an established journalist working as the lead writer for Cibdol and other cannabinoid publications. Committed to presenting factual, evidence-based content, his fascination with CBD also extends to fitness, nutrition, and disease prevention.

[1] Oláh, A., Tóth, B. I., & Borbíró, I. (2014b). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. PubMed. [Source]

[2] Xiong, W., Cui, T., & Cheng, K. (2012). Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. PubMed. [Source]

[3] Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., & Glynn, K. (2020b). Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders. NCBI. [Source]

[4] Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. (2011). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. NCBI. [Source]

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