CBD for Acne Treatment: How Does It Work?

Women popping Acne on the face.

Acne is indeed a problem that brings a nasty feeling of irritation and low self-esteem for many people. Worse is that finding an effective treatment can be difficult for some folks who have this type of skin condition. Taking prescription medications and using beauty products with harsh ingredients can often do more harm than good on the right balance of your skin.

Fortunately, there’s now a natural and affordable way to solve your acne problem: cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is one of the primary chemical compounds contained in cannabis plants, particularly from substrains known as hemp and marijuana.

Scientific data points to the capacity of CBD to treat skin conditions like acne because the chemical is abundant with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Some people use CBD as a topical application on acne breakouts, while others ingest it as an acne treatment. Either way, users attest to the fact that CBD is an excellent solution to combat acne.

If you want to try using CBD to treat your acne and other skin problems, here’s what you need to know.

Let’s Explain Further What is CBD

cannabinoid extract from the plant
Hand holding bottle of Cannabis oil against Marijuana plant, CBD oil pipette

As mentioned above, CBD is one of the many chemical compounds found in cannabis plants. It’s a type of cannabinoid that you can extract from cannabis substrains hemp and marijuana.

While this chemical can be extracted from marijuana, CBD doesn’t have psychoactive effects, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is another type of cannabinoid in cannabis plants.

Yes, like some other plants, cannabis is a complex plant. It contains a lot of chemical compounds, which have opposing effects. So, let’s just take it this way. If you want to get high, take THC. Use CBD, on the other hand, if you want to get some of its many health benefits. One of the beneficial effects that CBD can bring is the improvement of skin health.

The human body has an endocannabinoid system with which CBD interacts to improve your skin. A regular oral intake of CBD and application of CBD on your skin can make a significant difference in treating skin problems such as acne. Read on below to know further on how CBD works in the body and improves your skin.

How Does CBD Affect the Skin?

Cannabinoid lipids are present in the human skin to regulate temperature, pain, and skin renewal. As an exogenous cannabinoid, CBD can help stimulate and make more effective those processes, in the same way that nutritious foods and multivitamin products help a variety of functions in our body.

CBD targets transient receptor potential channels to repair dermatological damage and improve overall skin health. These channels respond well to cannabinoids, such as CBD. This chemical compound in cannabis also interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the body, inhibits the hyperproliferation of epidermal keratinocytes, and regulates sebum production.

Moreover, CBD affects the body processes that control proper development, death, and renewal of skin cells. Not only that, but CBD is also an excellent treatment for skin itch and pain, sensations which are partially mediated by the endocannabinoid receptor CB2. Activation of endocannabinoid receptors also results in the release of opioid peptides, which relieves pain and produces a feel-good sensation.

All these benefits of CBD as an anti-inflammatory treatment, pain and itch reliever and regulator of some of the body’s chemical processes are proof that CBD is good for treating skin conditions like acne.

Acne and Its Causes

Acne is a skin condition which is characterized by the forming of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts on the face, chest, shoulders, forehead, and back part of the body. Genetics, stress, and hormonal changes are the contributing factors that lead to the overproduction of sebum which, in turn, causes acne.

People across all ages have this skin condition, but it’s most common among teenagers. It’s because when puberty hits, hormonal changes in teens activate the glands to create more sebum. When there’s more sebum, pores can get clogged up with dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells. And this leads to the formation of acne.

If you’re dealing with an acne problem, you should find ways on how to prevent and treat it. Read on below to know more about acne prevention and treatment.

Acne Prevention

For people who are undergoing hormonal changes, particularly teenagers and pregnant women, the best way that you can do to fight acne is by eating healthy foods and keeping your face clean. Not having the right balance of androgens in the body causes hyperproduction of sebum and formation of acne.

It’s essential to watch your diet. Avoid foods like processed carbs and trans fats because they can cause inflammation. Also, maintain proper hygiene. As sebaceous glands produce more sebum on the skin, it’s essential to take a bath daily and clean your face with wipes from time to time. It’s also crucial to prevent yourself from getting stressed out as stressful situations can lead to overproduction of hormones and skin reaction.

People with acne problems often resort to taking medication and using beauty products with harsh ingredients. These solutions sometimes do more harm than good. It’s time to try a natural alternative: cannabidiol (CBD).

CBD for Treating Acne

It’s now time to learn about the benefits of CBD as an acne treatment. Here are some proven effects of CBD on the skin, particularly in preventing and treating the breakout of acne.

CBD Prevents Skin Inflammation

Cannabinoids, such as CBD, interact with cytokine production and immune cell function to control inflammations in the skin. Studies involving mice have shown that skin inflammation or dermatitis is a result of the inhibition of CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD activates these receptors and stimulates the skin’s healing process.

CBD Controls Sebum Production

Yes, you heard it right. Using CBD helps in regulating the sebaceous glands to prevent their overproduction of oily substances in the body. For people who are going through hormonal changes, you must use CBD oil or topical creams to control your oil glands and prevent your skin from clogging and forming into acne.

CBD Lessens Stress

As mentioned earlier, stress can contribute to the formation of acne on the skin. If you want to be less stressful, CBD can help you. This chemical compound can make people more relaxed and calm in stressful situations.

Specifically, CBD enables the release of neurotransmitters that lower your heart rate and make you feel better. It also controls adrenal reaction in times of anxiety attacks, thus reducing sweating, panting, and rushing of blood to the skin.

CBD Reduces Redness of the Skin Associated with Acne

CBD products like topical creams can have anti-redness effects when applied directly to the affected spot. Such effects happen because CBD can bypass metabolism and directly interact with the affected area of the skin. However, periods of effectiveness vary from person to person and from product to product.

You must not expect that once you apply the cream, it will clear away the redness on your skin. Some CBD creams have additional ingredients, such as vitamins, oils, and minerals. Others have higher CBD concentrations and are water-based.

CBD and Acne Scars

Acne breakout can turn into scars that can last for many years and even permanently. Indeed, acne scars are hard to eliminate. Can CBD get rid of these unsightly acne traces?

What Cause the Appearance of Acne Scars?

For you to understand the reasons why acne scars appear, you have to know the process of scarring in the first place. Once you get wounded on the skin, as in the case of acne breakouts, the wounds go through a six-stage healing process.

  • Rapid Homeostasis. The first stage in the healing process where bleeding stops through vasoconstriction, which means the tightening of blood vessels connected to the wound.
  • Inflammation. This stage refers to the body’s way of giving signals that you have an injury. It helps in pointing the location of where healthy cells must be distributed. This phase is vital in the healing process, but it may also prevent regeneration if the inflammation goes on for an extended period.
  • Proliferation and migration. Once inflammation happens, there will be a release of different types of cells, such as those in charge of migration and proliferation. Migration refers to the process of coordinated cell movements to the wound site. Proliferation, on the other hand, has similarities with homeostasis in that it further tightens the blood vessels.
  • Angiogenesis. After the bleeding stops, the body starts to rebuild tissue. In this stage, replacing damaged arteries and veins with newly created sections or portions happen. A myriad of chemicals works to facilitate this formation of new blood vessels around the wound.
  • Reepithelialization. After angiogenesis, the process of regrowing damaged skin begins. Reepithelialization is the stage in which epidermal cells known as keratinocytes begin forging, and the formation of several skin layers occurs.
  • Synthesis. The last stage of the wound healing process occurs almost at the same time with reepithelialization. In this phase, proteins form into blood clots, which further stops bleeding and damage as the formation of new blood vessels and skin layers happens.

The wound healing process may involve scarring as new skin layers forms. How the scars will look like, whether it will appear big or small, depends on the healthy function of every part involved in the healing process.

Different Kinds of Acne Scars

You must identify acne scars to treat them properly. So, here’s a list of different kinds of acne scars that you need to know.

  • Rolling scars. An acne-affected skin can develop rolling lines once the acne wounds heal. Rolling scars appear uneven due to the bands of fibrous tissue that form between the skin and the tissue as a result of pulling the epidermis from within.
  • Ice pick scars. As its name suggests, ice pick scars are deep marks on the acne-affected skin. They appear like open pores or thin holes that penetrate the dermis.
  • Keloid scars. Keloids are large raised marks on the skin and can grow bigger than the original wounds. They can also keep on growing, even if the wound has already healed.
  • Boxcar acne scars. These marks are round and oval with deep vertical edges. These scars cause the skin to have an uneven appearance, and they appear wider than ice pick scars. Boxcar acne scars develop when an acne breakout destroys the collagen and eliminates the tissue of the skin.
  • Hypertrophic scars. These scars develop as a result of an overproduction of collagen. They are most common in men who have acne and can be found in the shoulder area.

Can CBD Get Rid of Acne Scars?

There’s no definitive answer to this question. But CBD can control inflammation as new acne wounds undergo the process of healing. However, it’s a whole different story when you’re talking about old scars.

The anti-inflammatory properties of CBDcan only make a positive difference in the appearance of new scars. In this case, CBD works well in reducing the oxidative stress on the skin tissue.

One study has shown CBD’s ability to support the process of wound healing as it interacts with mesenchymal stem (MSC) cells. Cannabidiol checks the MSC cells immunosuppressive properties and serves as an antioxidant for the regrowth of healthy skin.

For years-old acne scars, the goal is to develop natural collagen from the inside to form new tissue to replace damaged skin. A study involving rats has shown that orally-administered CBD can interact with collagen-induced arthritis in these animals. However, this study doesn’t prove CBD as an effective treatment for years-old scars.

Further studies need to be carried out to determine the ability of CBD to get rid of old acne scars. Moreover, the research should involve human subjects to justify CBD’s effectiveness in this case.


Yes, cannabidiol is an excellent treatment for acne. It’s because CBD has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce itchiness, pain, redness, and acne breakout on the skin. The chemical compound also shows to regulate sebaceous glands on the skin to balance the release of sebum and prevent clogging and formation of acne. So, if you’re suffering from acne, you should consider using CBD as an acne treatment.

Vimal Lalani is senior correspondent for Ishli, Medical and Wellness unit, reporting breaking news and health consumer reporting on

Written by Vimal Lalani

Vimal Lalani is senior correspondent for Ishli, Medical and Wellness unit, reporting breaking news and health consumer reporting on


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