Cancer treatment is no walk in the park. While radiation and chemotherapy can be lifesaving, the side effects really take a toll on patients. The fatigue that these kinds of therapies can cause is often debilitating. The tiredness and brain fog can prevent patients from engaging in their daily routines or maintaining social lives.
Radiation can cause hair loss, which not only has aesthetic implications but can also leave the areas where hair loss occurs tender and sensitive to sunlight. Plus, the radiation can cause literal burns to the area where it’s applied. Occasionally, these burns and skin blistering can get so bad that oncologists actually need to pause treatments in order to deal with them.
Coping with radiation burns can be extremely difficult. Even simple everyday things, like wearing clothing, taking a shower, or going out in the sun, can further agitate the irritation from radiation burns. Many doctors recommend balms or lotions like aloe vera to help patients deal with the skin pain, but now that CBD topicals are more common than ever, some people have wondered, “can I run CBD oil on my skin for pain?”
Preliminary research suggests CBD may have several clinical applications, but what about for skin? Keep reading to find out if CBD can help treat radiation burns.
How Radiation Can Affect The Skin
Modern medical science is truly a marvel at times. Radiation therapy involves focusing high-energy beams, typically x-rays, to destroy cancer cells. This may sound like something out of a science fiction flick, but it’s real.
Unfortunately, radiation therapy isn’t sophisticated enough to specifically target cancer cells. These high-energy beams destroy everything in their path, including healthy skin cells. This can result in varying degrees of skin problems.
For some, this may just look like irritated flaky skin, similar to a mild sunburn. Others can experience more severe burns that come with blistering and intense pain. In these cases, the skin can actually start to slough off in small pieces similar to other second-degree burns.
Treatment for radiation burns will vary from patient to patient, but typically it involves using an ointment or steroid cream on the affected area.
Can I Rub CBD Oil On My Skin For Pain?
People already use cannabis to treat the wasting that often accompanies cancer treatments, but could it also be useful for radiation burns? To answer this question, we have to first look at how cannabinoids work.
First off, it’s important to use products as intended. CBD oils or tinctures designed for sublingual or oral administration aren’t meant to go on the skin. If you’re already taking CBD oil to help manage the side effects of your treatment, it’s not advised to rub that oil on your skin—you’ll need a CBD balm or lotion specifically meant for topical application.
Typically, when a person ingests CBD orally or through inhalation, the cannabinoids enter the bloodstream to engage with the endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body. When using a topically applied CBD, the cannabinoids never wind up entering the bloodstream, but they can interact with skin-deep endocannabinoid receptors in the specific area the topical is applied to.
Early studies suggest that CBD’s interaction with our endocannabinoid receptors can have anti-inflammatory effects, as well as analgesic properties. These potential curative benefits make CBD a compelling choice of ingredient for lotions or balms formulated to ease radiation burns.
While there are many companies already producing CBD-infused lotions or gels specifically for treating post-treatment burns, make sure to check with your physician or oncology team before incorporating these topicals into your recovery plan, as they can affect future treatments.
How Is CBD Good For The Skin In Other Ways?
Aside from its potential as a therapeutic ingredient in burn ointment, research suggests that CBD also has other benefits for your skin. It’s part of why the beauty industry has so wholly embraced the compound.
Acne and blemishes are often the results of an excess of sebum—an oily substance your skin naturally secretes. Studies show that CBD helps to reduce the amount of sebum your body produces. This, combined with CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects, make it a potentially useful compound in fighting acne and preventing breakouts.
If you’ve used CBD to recover from radiation burns, or just utilize it in your daily skincare routine, tell us your experience on Twitter!