Dry and Itchy Skin? Here’s How CBD Topicals Can Help

Dry skin is one of the most common skin conditions that exists.  

Scaly, itchy, and often cracking skin are all characteristics of dry skin…and it can be experienced on any part of the body. 

Most commonly dry skin affects the hands, feet, arms, and legs. 

If you’ve ever suffered from dry, flaky skin, you know just how uncomfortable it can actually be.

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Look no further than topicals CBD products.

Before we get into exactly how CBD oil works for dry, itchy skin, let’s take a deeper look at dry skin itself.

Woman With Cracking Dry Skin

What Causes Dry Skin?

Dry skin is technically caused by a loss of moisture in the upper layer of the skin. 

A number of things can actually lead to this issue and sadly anyone can develop an affected area.

Following are some of the most common causes:


Dry climates will automatically cause the skin to dry out. Live in the desert or mountains? Your skin is likely going to be much drier than someone who lives in a humid climate, such as states in the southeast US.


Did you know that dry skin is more common in the fall and winter months when humidity levels are lower? This can lead to dry skin during these months, while spring and summer tend to be more humid.


As we get older, our skin begins to dry out. This is due to a few different factors. For one, we lose natural oil production, which causes skin to dry out. Sun damage, decreased cell renewal, and changing hormones can all also contribute to skin problems when we get older. After the age of 40, dermatologists typically recommend the use of a daily moisturizer.

Skin Conditions

There are certain skin conditions that can cause this affliction, as well. Atopic dermatitis (aka eczema) is one. Children who experience eczema symptoms often develop dry skin as adults. Psoriasis is another condition that can causee the skin to dry.


There are some occupations that can contribute to this situation more than other, namely ones that demand one to immerse their hands in water throughout the day (think nurses, hair stylists, service industry professionals, etc.) tend to develop dry skin that can become raw and cracked.

Frequent Bathing or Washing Hands

Some people bathe and wash their hands more than others. Frequent bathing and hand washing in hot water is another factor that can lead to dry skin.

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Treatment for Dry Skin

Dry skin can often be relieved by making certain lifestyle changes.  

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following to help with dry skin:1

  • Limiting baths to 5-10 minutes and using warm water rather than hot water
  • Applying moisturizer immediately after bathing
  • Using ointments or creams rather than lotions, which can be more effective and less irritating
  • Only using gentle, natural, unscented skin care products
  • Using a humidifier in dry climates
  • Wear gloves and lip balm when it’s cold outside

While lifestyle changes can certainly help with skin conditions, there are times when your skin issues become a serious problem and needs professional attention and help. 

Extremely dry skin can warrant a prescription cream or ointment. 

It can also be an indication of a condition (such as eczema or psoriasis) that may need additional treatment.

Those that do get prescribed a prescription ointment for dry skin are often prescribed topical steroid creams(corticosteroids), especially in cases of eczema, dermatitis, and an allergic reaction

Other prescriptions for this skin condition includes immune modulators, such as tacrolimus and pimecrolimus.

When used properly, topical steroids rarely lead to side effects. The thing is, they’re only to be used for acute flare ups. 

Long-term use or short courses of use repeated too often of these topical treatments for dry skin can lead to some pretty serious side effects (which CBD oil does not!). 

woman rubbing cbd lotion onto her skin

Some of these side effects include:

  • Skin thinning (most common in high-strength steroids)
  • Stinging or burning of the skin
  • Inducement of rosacea 
  • Increased hair growth where the cream is used
  • Allergic reactions
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fluid build-up in the legs
  • Thinning and damage of bones
  • Cushing’s syndrome (very rare)

It’s easy to see why some people might want to stay away from using a topical steroid option when it comes to treating extremely dry and cracked skin.

close up of extremely dry skin

Aside from the side effects that can occur when using prescription steroid creams and ointments, many individuals simply prefer a less harsh option when it comes to skincare.

Sadly, many skincare products are packed full of synthetic and harmful ingredients which can sometimes enhance the issues someone is dealing with which is counterproductive with curing the situation. 

The skin is extremely absorbent and some of the chemicals and harmful ingredients in many lotions, creams, and ointments can absorb straight into your bloodstream. 

Some of the chemicals added to lotions (namely phthalates) have been linked in animal studies to male genital birth defects, decreased sperm counts, and altered pregnancy outcomes.2 

And while researchers note that there isn’t any definitive evidence in humans, widespread exposure, predominantly to phthalates, is known to occur.

What’s more, is that according to reports by Environment California, The Environmental Working Group, and Friends of the Earth, skin lotion and some other beauty products (makeup, shampoo, nail polish, and more) all contain chemicals that lack safety data.

It’s no wonder that more and more individuals are turning toward less harsh lotions and beauty products. 

And many of them with dry, cracked skin are finding that CBD cream is doing wonders for their skin. 

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How Cannabinoids Help

While there are several factors that can lead to dry skin, how much oil our skin produces has a significant effect on just how dry our skin actually becomes.  

The less oil our skin produces, the drier it’s going to be.   

In a 2014 study, it was discovered that CBD oil has a positive effect on the regulation of oil production of our skin. 

The study looked at the effects of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid on the sebaceous glands, which control the oil production of the skin.3 

It found that CBD oil “behaves as a highly effective sebostatic agent.”

Think of it like this. Sebaceous glands that produce too much oil can lead to the formation of skin conditions like acne. 

Sebaceous glands that don’t produce enough oil can lead to dry skin and conditions such as eczema.

Let’s introduce CBD oil and CBD cream and its ability to regulate oil production.

Could using a topical CBD cream or ointment help relieve dry skin? You bet it could.

CBD For Dry SkinTopical CBD Products Could Be a Good Option 

If you’re someone dealing with damaged skin, topical CBD oil could become your new go-to for finding lasting (natural) relief. You can also start a new DIY project by creating your own at home.

One of the founders of American dermatology, Dr. Granger Piffard not only founded the Journal of Cutaneous and Venereal Diseases (which is now known as JAMA Dermatology), but also wrote the first textbook of dermatologic therapeutics. 

In the textbook, Piffard writes, “a pill of cannabis indica at bedtime has at my hands sometimes afforded relief to the intolerable itching of eczema.”

According to the National Eczema Foundation, cannabinoids have a powerful anti-itch effect, stating that “there are receptors in the skin that interact with cannabinoids that could reduce the symptoms and appearance of atopic dermatitis (AD).” 

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They also refer to a human trial for patients with AD where an endocannabinoid cream improved the severity of itch and loss of sleep by 60 percent. 

By the end of the study, over 30 percent of participants no longer felt the need to continue using their prescription topical steroid cream.

If CBD cream can work this well for people with eczema, imagine the effects it could have for the average dry skin sufferer.

The skin contains its own endocannabinoid system

When applying a topical CBD lotion, the cannabinoid goes to work directly with the endocannabinoid system in the skin to create a synergistic harmony.

Too little oil production is brought back to a happy medium, bringing an end to dry, flaky skin. 

The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD work to calm the body’s immune response which could be beneficial in assisting inflammatory skin diseases. 

When applied as a topical, the CBD oil goes to work directly to offer relief where it’s applied.

In a 2017 study, researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus found that cannabinoids anti-inflammatory properties could be the reason why CBD is so powerful at relieving dry, cracked skin.

“Perhaps the most promising role of cannabinoids,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Robert Dellavalle MD, “is in the treatment of itch.”

He mentioned that in one study, eight of 21 patients that applied a cannabinoid cream twice a day for three weeks completely eliminated severe itching. 

He believes the cannabinoid cream reduced the dry skin that caused the itch in the first place.

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Final Thoughts

If you suffer from dry, flaky skin, CBD oil or CBD cream could be your saving grace.


Not only have studies shown that CBD has a positive effect on dry, scaly skin, but topicals are 100% the least intimidating way to take CBD oil.

Simply rub a CBD topical on the afflicted area like you would any regular old cream. Then let it work its magic.

If you’ve yet to try CBD cream and have skin issues, let this be your gentle nudge in doing so. As a bonus CBD doesn’t have many side effects or tend to give people an allergic reaction. 

You’ve got nothing to lose…except that dry, annoying, itchy, irritated skin.   

Have you personally tried CBD for your skin issues? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

Have questions? 

We’re always here to help. 

Drop us a comment and we’ll do our best to cover any concerns or queries about using CBD topicals for your dry skin problems.

Always make sure to carefully check the ingredients of any product you use to make sure you are not allergic. 

Use a small amount at first to determine compatibility with your skin.

Don’t forget to speak to your dermatologist or primary care doctor first if you have any concerns before using a CBD topical. 

They will be able to help you form a strategy on how to incorporate a CBD product into your regimen.


1Dermatologists’ top tips for relieving dry skin. American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2022. 

2Barrett J. R. (2005). Chemical Exposures: The Ugly Side of Beauty Products. Environmental health perspectives113(1), A24. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.113-a24
3Oláh, A., Tóth, B. I., Borbíró, I., Sugawara, K., Szöllõsi, A. G., Czifra, G., Pál, B., Ambrus, L., Kloepper, J., Camera, E., Ludovici, M., Picardo, M., Voets, T., Zouboulis, C. C., Paus, R., & Bíró, T. (2014). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytesThe Journal of clinical investigation124(9), 3713–3724. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI64628
4University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. (2017, April 18). Cannabinoids may soothe certain skin diseases, say researchers: Anti-inflammatory properties may be the keyScienceDaily. Retrieved February 14, 2022 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170418094315.htm

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