How Cannabis Topicals Aid Muscles and Skin

Cannabis topicals for pain and skin

Image Credit: By Roman Samborskyi on Shutterstock

Cannabis topicals are great for people who don’t want to smoke but need the benefits of cannabis. Read how they work for skin and pain and the types available.

When most people think of cannabis, the classic image of a stoned teenager with a blunt is what might come to mind. But the fact of the matter is the medical marijuana can be used in a number of ways, many of which don’t include smoking, ingestion, or even getting high.

And medical marijuana really works: 92% of patients using medical marijuana say so. So how can cannabis help with pain and skin relief? Keep reading to learn about cannabis topicals and their effect on a number of health issues.

What Are Cannabis Topicals?

Cannabis topicals refer to lotions, balms, salves, sprays, or oils that have been infused with cannabis. They are applied directly onto the skin where they are instantly absorbed.

One of the great benefits of using a topical application is that cannabis topicals are non-psychoactive. This means topical treatments won’t get you high.

This makes it a great option for those who are looking for the medical benefits of medical marijuana, but who don’t want to experience any of the psychoactive side effects of other ingestion methods. It also means you don’t have to smoke it, which can have negative health effects.

Cannabis topicals come in many varieties, just as there are many different strains of cannabis to choose from based on the chemical make-up, the desired effects, etc. Topicals are often infused with other ingredients to help with certain ailments, including various essential oils.

How Do Cannabis Topicals Work?

A topical treatment will provide the medical benefits of cannabis directly to a problem area. The skin absorbs the cannabis-infused topical which will provide relief to the area where the lotion, balm, spray, etc. is applied.

Topicals work by interacting with CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors trigger pain and inflammation in response to environmental and biological triggers.

When a topical is applied, the chemicals in cannabis bind to these receptors. This then works to reduce pain and inflammation as well as regulate some immune reactions in your skin and muscles in that immediate area.

How Do You Use Cannabis Topicals?

This will depend on the type of topical you are using. Lotions, balms, and salves are rubbed onto the problem area, whether that is a sore muscle or an area of dry skin.
Sprays are, as you could maybe guess, sprayed onto the problem area. This includes oral sprays, facial sprays, and other types of mists. There are also patches, lubricants, and gels as well.

Cannabis Topicals and Pain Relief

Pain relief is one of the most common reasons for using medical marijuana, with 93% of patients preferring cannabis over traditional forms of pain control. Let’s look at how cannabis topicals can provide some much-needed pain relief.

Muscle and Joint/Tendon Pain

Whether you have back pain, a sore neck, or sore muscles after working out, a cannabis topical treatment can help. Try a high THC-cannabis rub with menthol, eucalyptus, or tea tree oil for tension and soreness relief after a tough workout or a particularly long day on your feet.

According to multiple studies, cannabis products can also reduce inflammation. This can help with muscle tension, soreness, and inflammation of joints and tendons.

Simply apply the topical treatment directly to the sore muscle or tense area. Some common areas are your neck, temples, back, shoulders, knees, ankles, wrists, and feet.

Chronic Pain

Some of us have back pain once in a while because we moved a heavy box without thinking about straining our back. Other people live with chronic back pain, or other types of chronic muscle or joint pain, every day.

Many people are given intense and addictive pain relievers like opioids to help manage pain. These medications can lead to dangerous addiction, and they’ve plunged many areas of the country into an opioid crisis.

Medical cannabis offers an alternative to opioids while still providing relief. Topicals can be used to relieve chronic pain from multiple problems, including:

  • Injuries
  • Back pain
  • Arthritis
  • Joint Pain
  • Neuropathy
  • Pain from cancer

Relief from constant, chronic pain significantly helps these patients and increases their quality of life, simply through the application of topical cannabis.

Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches can be, and often are, considered a type of chronic pain. Migraine sufferers can be put out of commission for days with excruciating headaches that make them sensitive to light, nauseous, dizzy. They can also cause muscles in the face, neck, and pack to tense up, which causes more pain.
Application of topical cannabis can provide relief to any and all of these symptoms. Topicals can be applied to the temples, neck, back, and face to reduce migraine pain and symptoms better than other forms of treatment.

Cannabis Topicals Can Help Skin Issues and Diseases

Since the effect of topical cannabis is in the immediate area of application, it makes sense that it would be useful in helping a number of skin diseases and issues as it is applied directly to the skin.


Eczema is an umbrella term for a skin rash. These rashes can be caused by an irritant, excessive dryness, or, if chronic, it can flare up without warning.

Eczema causes red, itchy rashes to appear any place on the body. The skin is often dry, cracked, sensitive, and extremely itchy. While some of these rashes will resolve themselves, chronic eczema can be long-lasting and flare up periodically.

There’s no cure for eczema, but you can manage the symptoms with topical cannabis products. Topical cannabis can provide relief to the itchiness and the redness by reducing inflammation. Look for products infused with moisturizing oils and components to help with dryness.


Psoriasis is a similar skin condition caused by the build-up of dry skin. This build-up forms rad, scaly rashes that can be extremely itchy, sore, and dry. Psoriasis is a chronic condition that can also lead to joint pain.

While psoriasis, like eczema, has no cure, cannabis topicals can be used to manage any symptoms you may have. Topicals can reduce itching, redness, inflammation, and joint pain caused by inflammation.

Cannabis infused lotions and balms will help moisturize your skin. They’ll also provide you with the medical benefits of cannabis to help relieve psoriasis symptoms.


Acne is by far the most common skin condition in America, with more than 50 million Americans affected annually. Acne has a range of severity, from mild pimples to chronic, cystic nodules.

Acne can have a range of negative effects, including:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Skin scarring
  • Heightened anxiety/depression

Some popular acne medications and treatments have serious side effects. These include dry skin, hormone issues, blood clots, and even birth defects.

Cannabis topicals can provide a treatment for acne without the scary side effects. Certain types of cannabis topicals are made to be applied directly to blemishes to reduce redness and tenderness.
There are also cannabis face washes, lotions, and balms that can reduce the number of breakouts. Studies show that CBD, a component of cannabis, can reduce the amount of sebum (the liquid your skin produces that creates acne) your body produces. This can reduce breakouts and pimple formation.

Allergic Reaction or Dermatitis

Allergic reactions are caused by an immune response to an irritant. This irritant can be something you’ve touched, put on your skin, or just been in close proximity to. This can lead to dermatitis, also known as skin inflammation. This can lead to:

  • Rash
  • Itchiness
  • Soreness
  • Burning
  • Pain

Topical cannabis treatments can moisturize and soothe itchy, dry skin caused by allergic reactions. Cannabis is also known to affect immune responses, which can help reduce the skin symptoms of an allergic reaction and reduce inflammation.

Dryness and Itching

Perhaps you do have one of the disorders or skin problems we’ve gone over here, in which case you see how topical cannabis can help you. But what if you don’t have a particular skin condition, but you just happen to have itchy or dry skin?

Good news: topical cannabis can still help you. Whether your dry, itchy skin is caused by psoriasis or just a tough, dry winter, it can help. It will provide inflammation relief and pain relief, while the other oils and components of the topical can help with moisturizing and dryness.

Wrapping Up

Medical marijuana is an amazing plant medicine that can help with everything from neurodegenerative disorders to dry skin. As more and more states lean towards legalization of marijuana products, we will start to see a revolution of medicine and medical treatments as we know it.

Pain and skin relief can improve a patient’s quality of life and provide them with much-needed solace. People with sore muscles after the gym, acne, and chronic eczema can rejoice in finding a product that can help it all.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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