Does CBD Oil Help Sunburns?

Does CBD Oil Help Sunburns?

The 2020 coronavirus outbreak is taking Americans into new realms of outdoor living this summer. While baseball games may be off the menu, many other activities that may once have taken place indoors – restaurant meals, exercise classes, church services, and plain old visits with friends and family – are now al fresco.

Add to that the fact that thousands of people are taking to the streets to protest injustice, and you’ve got a whole lot of acres of skin exposed to the sun these days.

Doing all these things outdoors may help keep us safe from coronavirus, but it brings a lesser, but still annoying, risk: sunburn. Many people who enjoy outdoor activities know how to protect themselves from it, but all the new habits have some USA citizens learning how quickly they can fry near the summer solstice.

There are several homemade and over-the-counter remedies for sunburn out there, but the last couple years have brought a new candidate: CBD oil. There are already CBD topicals for sale out there, aimed at various conditions; could you also use CBD oil for sunburn?

Let’s take a look at why you might be interested in using CBD oil for burns, and why using CBD oil for sunburn, in particular, may be helpful.

What Happens to Your Skin When You Get a Sunburn

Burns can occur from the sun, an accident in the kitchen, and beyond. Medical professionals classify “burns” into three categories, based on severity:

  • If the heat source only damages the outer layer of the skin, this is a first-degree burn. The skin will be red and painful, but otherwise intact. These usually fade away after a few days.
  • A burn that also damages the under-layer of skin is a second-degree burn. These usually are more painful and can cause the skin to turn blistered and blotchy. Second-degree burns also eventually heal on their own, but there’s a higher risk of further damage and scarring.
  • The worst kind of burn is a third-degree burn, which destroys the skin and the nerve endings. You don’t go back to normal from those, but they can be treated with skin grafts.
A man at a swimming pool applies sunscreen to his bare shoulders

Fortunately, you’re not getting a third-degree burn from sun exposure alone. In the case of first- and second-degree burns, many of the symptoms are actually the result of your body’s immune system reacting to the trauma by sending warning signals that it’s damaged (hence the pain) and extra blood to the area (thus the heat and redness).

Thus, most common sunburn treatments aim to temper your immune system’s reaction, called the inflammatory response.

A woman draws a sun in sunscreen with her fingers on her bare shoulder

How to Soothe a Sunburn

Ultimately, your body has to heal burns on its own time, but you can take several steps to make yourself more comfortable along the way. Current doctor-recommended suggestions include:

  • Apply something cold to the burn. Water, ice, or whatever may be handy. This cooling shrinks your blood vessels and reduces nerve activity, thereby reducing pain. Be careful about jumping into the swimming pool, though – chlorine can further irritate your skin.
  • Use OTC products with menthol or camphor. Over-the-counter products containing menthol or camphor can create a cooling sensation absent actual coldness and have anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe vera, an extract of a Middle Eastern succulent, is another popular burn treatment with a long history.
  • Use cortisone cream. A cortisone cream, the same as you’d use for rashes and mosquito bites, can also counter the inflammatory response to burns.
  • Take an oral painkiller. An oral painkiller like aspirin or ibuprofen can also be helpful.
  • Moisturize. Burns dry out the skin, so use a light moisturizer to help prevent further irritation and itching.
  • Don’t touch your skin. If you have a second-degree sunburn, don’t pop your blisters! They help protect the damaged underlayer of your skin while it heals.

So, where does CBD fit into this? Read on!

CBD Oil For Sunburns

What is CBD? It’s a compound in the cannabis plant that interacts with the endocannabinoid system, or ECS.

The ECS is a network of receptors in your nervous system that, through natural transmitters called endocannabinoids, helps regulate a variety of body functions, including mood, memory, appetite, cell regeneration, and the immune system.

It’s that last function that has the most relevance to using CBD oil for sunburns. Research indicates that CBD helps modulate the body’s inflammatory response by binding to the receptors, making CBD oil a popular tool for those managing soreness from exercise and other stresses.

While most people take CBD internally, you also have endocannabinoid receptors in your skin. Therefore, a whole range of CBD topicals is on the market, often incorporating other ingredients for pain and skincare.

A bottle of 750 mg CBD Freeze and 1500 mg CBD Revive from cbdMD sit side by side on the sand

How to Use CBD Oil For Sunburn

When looking at a topical CBD product, you need to look carefully at the ingredients list. Many contain the same ingredients as existing sunburn treatments, but some may contain irritants.

For instance, cbdMD’s For instance, cbdMD’s CBD Freeze Pain Relief Gel includes menthol and aloe vera. As it happens, yours truly got a light sunburn just before I started writing this, and I can report that Freeze produces a pleasant cooling sensation on hot skin.

As a gel, however, Freeze can be drying. A daily application of Revive Moisturizing Lotion can help with that, especially since it doesn’t contain any irritating artificial perfumes.

At the same time, I would advise against using Recover Pain Relieving Formula. It’ll moisturize you, but its main working ingredient, antihistamine dihydrochloride, actually increases blood flow to the skin and makes it feel warmer. So while that’s handy for stiff muscles and joints, it could make your burn feel worse.

Whatever type of CBD oil for sunburn you use, try applying it to a small area first, then go bigger if you like the results. Don’t apply it more than four times a day or on broken skin or popped blisters. If your burn is showing signs of infection, such as cracking and oozing pus, don’t put any topical product on it – keep it clean and covered, and see a doctor ASAP.

Have You Tried CBD for Sunburn Relief? Let Us Know

Have you tried using CBD oil for burns, including sunburns? Which products did you use? Let us know your story by tagging us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!