EducationA guide to CBD for rosacea

A guide to CBD for rosacea

6 min read

Sam North

A guide to CBD for rosacea

No one likes turning red in a social situation – it can be embarrassing, hitting your self-confidence where it hurts. But for rosacea sufferers, this is an all-too regular occurrence, reducing their quality of life and making them feel self-conscious. Rosacea may be a pretty common skin condition, but it can also be a distressing one. Relief may be on the horizon, with recent research pointing to the potential effectiveness of CBD as a treatment, throwing patients a possible welcome lifeline.


Rosacea can affect anyone, though typically it is seen more frequently in people over 30 who are fair skinned, particularly women. It causes redness on the face, neck, and chest - and while not life-threatening, it can certainly be difficult for sufferers, causing them irritation, distress, and discomfort.

It normally presents with people blushing or becoming flushed more easily, and sufferers may experience periodic flare-ups. Moreover, it is a lifelong condition with no known cure, and it can have an impact on mental health. One 2013 study found, it could lead to low self-esteem and shattered confidence.

In a survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society, 90% said the condition had lowered their self-esteem, while 52% had avoided face-to-face contact because of it. 

Rosacea causes and treatment

It’s unclear what exactly causes rosacea, though there are several possibilities. Potential culprits include environmental factors, bacteria on the skin, immune system dysfunction and genetics. Factors which make the blood vessels in the face get larger, such as hot or cold temperatures or stress, are thought to contribute to periodic flare-ups.

Current conventional treatments tend to be topical creams or oral medications to help people manage symptoms during a flare up. Doctors will also prescribe antibiotics and, in severe cases, surgery may be required to address any disfigurement because of scarring.

Rosacea and CBD: The science

The Cannabis sativa plant has been used by humans for thousands of years for a variety of health treatments, but because of its well-known psychotropic effects, its application in therapeutic situations is controversial. However, over the last 50 years, there has been a surge in interest surrounding how cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids to be more precise), compounds found in cannabis, react in the human body.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are the two cannabinoids found in the highest concentrations in cannabis. THC is the intoxicating element that gives the characteristic high, while CBD potentially offers many therapeutic benefits but with no known psychotropic effects. 

CBD interacts with the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS) – a vast network of neurotransmitters, chemical signals and cell receptors. The ECS is responsible for a range of critical bodily functions including immune system regulation, central nervous system control, and overall homeostasis. CBD is similar in makeup to endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by the human body), and so has the ability to interact with the ECS receptors. 

For rosacea, it is believed CBD, working through the ECS, binds with specific receptors to potentially alleviate symptoms. It may also be able to restore skin balance. One scientific review has found the activation of the CB2 receptor by CBD may reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Research has also shown it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties - all of which may improve the appearance of rosacea when applied topically.

CBD also possesses analgesic properties, which could help with pain and irritation. Current treatment for chronic rosacea cases is based around non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and also ibuprofen and antidepressants, but these all carry unwanted side effects.

Using CBD for rosacea

Treatment for rosacea starts with great skincare and there are many topical CBD products available including creams, ointments, and oils which can be incorporated as part of a daily regime. CBD oil can also be rubbed directly onto the skin. In addition, CBD can be taken orally in the form of drops under the tongue, or as an edible.

Follow these four steps to keep your skin in optimal condition:

  • Use a daily cleanser – Choose one that is gentle on the skin and apply it first thing in the morning and late at night. A CBD-based cleanser can help support your skin’s well-being.
  • Moisturise – After cleansing, it’s important to moisturise to help soothe the area and reduce irritation.
  • Use sun protection – Even if it’s cloudy or rainy, the sun can still have an effect. Choose a high SPF factor and apply it during your daily life, particularly if you know your rosacea is triggered by the sun.
  • Avoid triggers – It’s not always obvious what the true triggers may be, but it’s sensible to avoid the common ones like alcohol and spicy food. Both of these can cause facial blood vessels to dilate, increasing the chance of a flare up.

If you do decide to add a CBD-based product into your daily regime, it’s important to follow the guidelines on dosage and application. 

Products will vary with some containing 17mg of CBD per dropper up to stronger versions of 84mg per dropper. Start with a lower amount and assess its effectiveness regularly, only increasing if and when you need to.

Alternatively, you can take it with food although this may affect the bioavailability and reduce the effectiveness of CBD.

Safety and considerations

CBD is generally thought to be well-tolerated and without the more serious side effects people may experience with NSAIDs, steroids, and antibiotics. One study on transdermal gel reported no serious adverse side effects. However, 85% reported one adverse event, such as mild dryness or a mild rash.

Common side effects when taken orally can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Anxiety

CBD can also interact with other medications, and in particular increase the effect of blood thinning drugs. If you are planning to take CBD, it’s important to speak to your doctor first.

CBD - Giving hope to rosacea sufferers

With rosacea negatively impacting people’s quality of life, it’s not surprising that they look for alternatives that might alleviate symptoms. Research has shown strong potential for the therapeutic benefits of CBD, but more studies are required to fully assess its safety and effectiveness.

If you, or a loved one, are suffering from rosacea and would like to learn more about how medicinal cannabis may be able to potentially reduce the symptoms, we are here to help. Accessing medical cannabis can be challenging due to the stigma surrounding it. However, Releaf makes it simple with our tailored monthly packages, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection, all based on your cannabis prescription.

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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Sam North, a seasoned writer with over five years' experience and expertise in medicinal cannabis, brings clarity to complex concepts, focusing on education and informed use.

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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