Topical cannabis may help relieve itching, according to a review of the medical research.
The skin contains cannabinoid receptors, which play a role in regulating inflammation, itching and redness, and immune reactions. According to the review, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may help calm itch fibers and regulate cannabinoid receptors. In humans, clinical studies have shown that topical cannabis reduced itching due to a range of disorders including atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, allergic contact dermatitis, and disorders that cause itching body wide. Studies of eczema patients found that using a CBD cream allowed patients to get off medications like steroid treatments and antihistamines.
Both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) may have unique effects on the skin. CBD has been shown to directly reduce itching. One study found that 8 of 21 patients who applied a cannabinoid cream twice daily for three weeks completely eliminated severe itching. THC has been shown to decrease allergic reactions and inflammation by tamping down the immune response.
The authors called for more rigorous research on the types and dosage of cannabis that may be most beneficial as well as on any potential side effects. Cannabis creams are available over the counter and at some medical dispensaries.