Lichen planus is a skin condition that can affect the body, scalp, genitals, or mouth. It can cause sufferers to experience extreme discomfort, sometimes even making it challenging to eat or drink.
Nowadays, more people are becoming aware of CBD’s potential to relieve skin disorders like eczema and acne. Therefore, many are wondering whether this cannabinoid could help to ease lichen planus symptoms too.
So, is CBD oil good for lichen planus, or is this just wishful thinking? Here’s all you need to know.
What Is Lichen Planus?
Lichen planus causes clusters of raised lesions, known as papules, on the skin. It can affect the body (most commonly the wrists, ankles, and lower back), the scalp, or the mucous membranes. The latter includes the inside of the mouth and the genitals.
The condition usually resolves by itself within 1–2 years, although it can recur and may also leave behind scarring. It is most common in adults aged between 30 and 60 and affects slightly more women than men.
Lichen Planus Symptoms
The papules that lichen planus causes can vary in appearance depending upon where they occur.
On the body, they tend to be:
These lesions are often very itchy, although, in some cases, they may not itch at all. In the mouth, lichen planus appears as white patches on the tongue, gums, and inside the cheeks. It can cause burning sensations inside the mouth, which eating or drinking may aggravate.
On the genitals, the condition can cause either sore, red patches on the vulva, or ring-shaped patches on the penis. When it occurs on the scalp, lichen planus can cause bald patches, alongside sore or itchy lesions. Lichen planus may also affect the nails, causing them to become rough, thin, and grooved.
What Causes Lichen Planus?
It is unclear why some people develop lichen planus. Most experts agree that it usually stems from an allergic or immune reaction to an irritant.
It appears that, in some people, exposure to certain chemicals, including metals, dyes, and medications, can cause an inflammatory response. Viruses like hepatitis C may also trigger lichen planus in some instances.
What Is the Best Treatment for Lichen Planus?
The most common treatments for lichen planus include corticosteroid creams or ointments to reduce inflammation and itching.
If these are ineffective, doctors may prescribe corticosteroid injections or tablets. In severe cases, drugs to suppress the immune system may be necessary. Other options include light therapy or mouthwashes for oral lichen planus.
Making some lifestyle adjustments may also help, including:
- Washing with plain, warm water and avoiding scented soap or body wash
- Washing the hair over a sink so that shampoo does not drip onto the skin
- Using an emollient cream to moisturize the skin regularly
- Avoiding tight-fitting clothing
- Brushing the teeth carefully
- For oral lichen planus, avoiding alcohol, alcohol-containing mouthwashes, and salty, spicy, or acidic food and drink.
Now that CBD oil is becoming more widely available, some people are wondering whether it could help lichen planus. Let’s take a look.
Is CBD Oil Good for Lichen Planus?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a type of chemical known as a cannabinoid. It is one of the many active components that hemp and certain cannabis strains produce. It has become increasingly mainstream in recent years due to its potential benefits for various conditions, including some skin disorders.
Unfortunately, there is currently no research on CBD oil for lichen planus, specifically. However, a 2019 review for Molecules suggests that CBD could influence skin health in several ways. It works by altering the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is present in several different types of skin cells.
This system helps to maintain a state of balance by regulating the rate at which skin cells grow, develop, and die. Therefore, it seems that ECS dysfunction could play a crucial role in many different skin conditions.
Scientists have become especially focused on the role of the ECS in inflammatory skin diseases. It seems that our body’s natural cannabinoid compounds can reduce inflammation by regulating immune system activity.
This is also where CBD exerts many of its beneficial effects. It helps to enhance ECS activity by slowing down the rate at which our natural cannabinoids break down.
It can also bind with cell receptors outside the ECS, including TRPV1 and PPAR-gamma receptors. Both of these play a critical role in reducing inflammation.
So, although there is no clinical evidence to support the use of CBD for lichen planus yet, it may have some effect. Furthermore, anecdotal reports from people who have tried CBD oil for lichen planus are promising.
We hope to see some more focused research emerging in the future to support these claims.
Choosing the Best CBD for Lichen Planus
Anyone wishing to try CBD oil for lichen planus will want to select the right product for their needs. Unfortunately, there is an overwhelming choice available, and it can be difficult to know where to start.
Firstly, look for a brand that provides lab reports for all of its products. Doing so will ensure that the items contain appropriate levels of CBD and other active ingredients. It also reduces the risk of contamination from chemical pesticides or fertilizers, which could irritate the skin.
Secondly, consider whether the CBD is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate. Full-spectrum products contain a range of other cannabinoids and terpenes, many of which have additional anti-inflammatory effects.
Broad-spectrum products are similar but contain zero THC, the intoxicating compound in cannabis. As the name suggests, isolates contain CBD alone.
Next, select a product type. CBD oils are a popular choice and may be suitable for anyone suffering from oral lichen planus. They should be held in the mouth for up to 90 seconds before swallowing to increase absorption into the bloodstream.
Topical CBD products like creams or balms are another option for people with lichen planus on their skin. However, care should be taken to choose topicals without too many additional ingredients that may cause further irritation. It is sensible to try new products on a small area first and wait 24 hours to monitor any reactions.
Finally, read plenty of online reviews to find a reputable brand. Many companies have jumped upon the CBD bandwagon recently, but not all of them offer high-quality goods.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Lichen Planus
There is no clinical research on CBD oil for lichen planus yet, but anecdotal reports suggest that it could help. Indeed, the compound has potent anti-inflammatory properties and has proven useful for a range of other skin conditions.
Most people can take CBD oil without any serious side effects. Therefore, there is little risk in giving it a try.
That said, we recommend that anyone considering using CBD for lichen planus consults a physician first. This is especially important for anyone taking other medication, as CBD can interact with several different drugs.