What Are The 3 Types of Acne? Can CBD Help? | cannabisMD

What Are The 3 Types of Acne? Can CBD Help?

What Are The 3 Types of Acne? How CBD Can Help

A woman's jawline which is clearly affected by severe acne

Acne is a very broad term that covers quite a few different conditions with a wide range of causes. It can vary in severity from the occasional zit to a face, neck and shoulders covered in weeping sores.

Affecting many teenagers and young adults, as well as a smaller but still significant population of older adults, acne can be a debilitating and painful condition. It can affect confidence, school performance and attendance, inclusion in social groups and sports, present a target for bullies and simply make the person with acne feel terrible. It can be painful, disrupt sleep, cause permanent scarring and be an open avenue to infection.

Considering how common it is, you could be forgiven for thinking there are effective treatments available. Unfortunately, while some types of acne are treatable with some antibiotics and with hormonal treatment, it is not always effective and the side effects can be intolerable.

Hopefully, CBD could be an effective alternative for some people. This has yet to be seen as the scientific literature regarding CBD treatment is disappointingly sparse for different types of acne.

The 3 Types of Acne

The three most common types of acne are acne vulgaris, acne fulminans and acne mechanica.

Acne Vulgaris
By far the most common acne, this is when the acne bacteria, sebum and dead skin cells clog a hair follicle. These follicles then become inflamed, fill with dead bacteria and dead skin which clog pores, producing whiteheads and blackheads, papules and pustules that are filled with pus. Acne vulgaris is a type of cystic acne as well in the severe forms of the condition.

Acne Fulminans
A fast-onset form of inflammatory acne that usually affects adolescent males, producing nodules and cysts over the chest and back, this is probably an immune disease brought on by the rise in testosterone levels in adolescent males. Acne fulminans is thankfully relatively rare but is a severe form of acne and can cause pain and swelling in the joints as well as the nodules themselves.

Acne Mechanica
The causes of acne mechanica are usually rubbing, friction, heat and pressure on skin for extended periods, or by the isolation of skin from fresh air. Those who already have acne are more likely to develop acne mechanica, but it can occur on anyone and anywhere on the body. Characterized by lesions in the places of contact with clothing like boots, hats and shoulder straps, the lesions can be large and painful or small and relatively bearable, or anywhere in between. It’s usually easily treatable by relieving whatever pressure was on that area of skin and allowing lots of fresh air to meet the skin.

Acne Treatment

Treating acne is often unsuccessful and obtaining clear skin can be a very difficult task. Hormone treatment like oestrogen for females (often in the form of the birth control pill) and testosterone for males can be effective but have side effects that can be fairly severe. Changing the balance of hormones during puberty is still a relatively badly understood process, and the long term implications have yet to be fully understood.

Currently, treatments with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are common for most forms of acne. The use of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, both poisonous and unpleasant chemicals, is to be avoided if possible. They show some success in treatment, and if they are successful in preventing scarring, should certainly be used, but less toxic alternatives are starting to emerge. One of which is CBD.


Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It has been illegal, along with all other parts of the plant, for a very long time. Recently, however, it has been found to be effective for the treatment of many conditions, or so many would have you believe. Unfortunately, the science backing up claims of efficacy for CBD is usually below the standard needed to be replicable and representative of large groups of people.

This means that while it might have shown to be effective on a small group of humans (or more commonly, rodents) in a lab, the same effects might not be present for larger groups. Controlling for outside factors is impossible with small cohorts, like in the CBD tests, so the true safety and effectiveness of CBD is still to be established.

What is known, however, is that CBD has a remarkable safety record. It is not toxic, has no known overdose cases, and does not affect the mind of the user (it is not psychoactive). It is also known to affect the endocannabinoid system in humans, a large range of receptors on the neurons in the brain, skin and other tissues, that regulate many different parts of the body.

One of these is the production of sebum, the oil the body produces in the skin. Excess sebum can cause acne, so the hope is that CBD can help to reduce oil production and regulate the sebocytes with its anti-inflammatory and sebostatic effects. This suggests that CBS could treat the very cause of acne, unlike the other treatments mentioned above which merely treat the symptoms. A proven anti-inflammatory, CBD can help skin to become less inflamed and painful to the touch, something that will be very helpful to many acne sufferers.

It is clear that when a person is at risk of scarring or severe pain, they should opt for the most effective method possible. However, when in discussion with the doctor who is treating the condition, the use of CBD should be floated as a possible addition to treatment. If it is legal in the country where the patient resides, CBD is a definite option. If it is illegal, it cannot be recommended.

Using CBD for Acne Treatment
If the patient has legally obtained pure CBD oil from a reputable supplier, there are several ways of administering it that are worth experimenting with.

By applying CBD topically, or directly onto the acne lesion, nodule, or cyst, CBD can be delivered directly to the source of the problem. For some users, this is effective, for others, less so. To begin, test a small amount of CBD on a clear area of skin and leave for 24 hours to test for an allergic reaction. If no reaction occurs, apply a measured dose directly to the acne by dabbing, not rubbing. This should be left to dry in the open air for maximum absorption. CBD can also be added to creams, including those with salicylic acid, for application alongside other treatments.

Check out our article on the best CBD skin creams.

By ingesting CBD, the chemical is applied more generally to the body. The anti-inflammatory effects and mood stabilizing potential of CBD could help reduce the stress that can trigger acne, and reduce the inflammation of the acne affected area. Whether this is more effective than topical administration is for the user to determine.

Due to the lack of reliable data, the user must experiment in order to find the right dose for them. Use pure CBD oil that has been independently verified and note down each dose. If necessary, increase or decrease the dose until the minimum effective dose has been found.

For more information on how CBD oil could be the answer to your skin care problems, click here.

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