Topical Cannabinoids May Fight Itch and Inflammatory Skin Diseases Interview with:
Jessica S. Mounessa, BS

University of Colorado School of Medicine
Aurora, Colorado and
Robert Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH
Professor of Dermatology and Public Health
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Colorado School of Public Health
Chief, Dermatology Service
US Department of Veterans Affairs
Eastern Colorado Health Care System
Denver, CO 80220 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: One in 10 adult cannabis users in the U.S. use it for medicinal purposes. Medicinal cannabis is well studied for its uses in chronic pain, anorexia, and nausea. Numerous recent studies have highlighted other medicinal uses for cannabinoids and related compounds.

We conducted a comprehensive review of the literature on the potential role of cannabinoids in conditions affecting the skin.

Our study reveals the potential benefit of topically prepared cannabinoid compounds, especially for pruritus and eczema.  For example, creams containing Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), which enhances cannabinoid-receptor binding, have been successful in relieving itch both in the literature, and anecdotally in our clinics.

Though not strictly considered an endocannabinoid, as it does not directly bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors, PEA works by enhancing endocannabinoid binding to these receptors.** Furthermore, the majority of the cannabinoid compounds we studied did not contain psychoactive effects. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Topical preparations of compounds working on cannabinoid receptors may be effective in fighting pruritus (itch) and other inflammatory skin diseases. Our study sheds light on a potentially new class of effective drugs to alleviate symptoms of such skin diseases. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Further research on the uses of topical cannabinoids is needed to identify which compounds are most effective for different skin conditions. Further testing of active ingredients and concentrations in such products would allow for more effective clinical recommendations. Healthcare providers should also gain awareness of products that currently may be available to the public. 

No disclosures. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


The role of cannabinoids in dermatology
Mounessa, Jessica S. Julia A. Siegel, BA, Cory A. Dunnick, MD,
Robert P. Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology , Volume 0 , Issue 0 , Published online:April 14, 2017

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on April 21, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD