Does smoking weed cause acne?
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- What causes acne?
- Does cannabis make acne worse?
- Could cannabis reduce acne?
- Tips for healthy skin
- Bottom line on cannabis and acne
Acne is a frustrating skin condition for as many as 50 million Americans. While acne affects 85% of adolescents, chronic breakouts can persist into adulthood. Multiple factors can contribute to the formation of pimples on the face and body, but does smoking marijuana cause acne?
Here you’ll learn about the different causes and risk factors for acne and the research on cannabis and acne. Plus, we’ll offer some expert tips to keep your skin glowing.
What causes acne?
There are plenty of myths surrounding dairy products and sugary sodas when it comes to acne. But the scientific evidence points to one primary cause — genetics. “Although there was once thought to be a link between acne and smoking tobacco, the evidence hasn’t supported this idea,” explains Dr. Adie Rae, a neuroscientist and scientific adviser to Weedmaps.
Some other common causes of acne:
- High testosterone levels and excess androgens
- Skin-clogging cosmetics
- Oily hair care products that make contact with the face
- Bacteria from dirty phones, pillowcases, and other objects that come in contact with the face
- Chronic stress, often stemming from a lifestyle lacking adequate sleep and balanced nutrition
Another common cause is normal hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle when testosterone levels are higher. Acne breakouts are, in fact, more prevalent in adult females than males due to the shifting hormones of menstruation and, eventually, menopause.
But does smoking marijuana cause acne, and can cannabis exacerbate skin conditions that are already problematic?
Does cannabis make acne worse?
Current research indicates that smoking weed does not make acne worse in most people. There is only one study that has shown an association between adolescent cannabis smokers and acne.
While smoking weed does not make acne worse in most people, some young adults who consume cannabis regularly, with a combination of fluctuating hormones and diet, have been linked to moderate to severe acne. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
That study was conducted in France in 2015 and published in the scientific journal Dermatology. It showed that regular cannabis smoking (along with the consumption of chocolate and other sweets) was linked to moderate to severe acne in participants aged 15 to 24. However, other factors may have played a role in the subjects’ acne, as young adulthood is marked by fluctuating hormones and represents the time when people are most likely to have acne. In other words, it is unclear whether smoking weed was the sole (or even the primary) cause of acne in these individuals.
Could cannabis reduce acne?
It is possible that certain cannabis products could help reduce or prevent acne, according to Dr. Rae. “Cannabis seed extract measurably reduces sebum in healthy adults. Sebum can plug hair follicles and lead to acne. Hemp seed oil has also been shown to reduce inflammation and sebum production, in vitro,” Dr. Rae says.
Creams containing cannabis seed extract can reduce sebum in healthy adults, making it a safe and effective way to manage acne. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Dr. Rae cited one 2015 study published in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, which showed that a cream containing 3% cannabis seed extract was a safe and effective way to manage acne. Specifically, the cream appeared to have a calming effect on the sebaceous glands of men’s cheeks, decreasing the production of sebum and the appearance of acne.
“In human skin tissue, CBD has also been shown to reduce inflammation and sebum production. CBC and THCV also appear to reduce sebum,” says Dr. Rae. In fact, one 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD on human skin cells in the laboratory. The researchers determined that CBD looks promising for treating acne.
However, not all cannabinoids may be beneficial in managing acne. Dr. Rae points out that in certain studies, CBG and CBGV actually increased sebum production.
Tips for healthy skin
Genetics may be the most prominent factor in maintaining clear skin, but a healthy lifestyle of sufficient sleep, sensible nutrition, and moderate exercise can also help maintain healthy skin.
Some other ways you can protect your body’s largest organ:
- Practice stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing
- Wash your face twice daily, but avoid over-washing
- Exfoliate once a week to slough off dead skin cells, open the pores, and boost collagen production
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Steer clear of junk food and other possible dietary triggers
Bottom line on cannabis and acne
Cannabis consumers and medical marijuana patients can be confident that smoking weed is not likely to have a significant connection to acne. But that doesn’t mean there’s no role for the plant.
“There isn’t enough evidence to support the idea that cannabis smoking causes acne. There is, however, a growing body of promising evidence that cannabinoids and other oil extracted from the seed of the plant may be effective ingredients in a new generation of acne treatments,” says Dr. Rae.
While dermatologists may not be prescribing cannabis as a treatment, certain cannabinoids may ultimately be integrated into a complementary acne-fighting regime.
Learn about the different causes and risk factors for acne and the research on cannabis and acne.
Does Smoking Weed Cause Acne?
Finally, an answer to an age-old question, “Is marijuana OK for the skin?”
While some people insist that cannabis causes skin problems, especially acne, others suggest that the natural plant is not to blame for this issue. Acne is America’s most common skin condition. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the condition affects up to 50 million Americans each year. Moreover, up to 85% of people aged 12-24 experience minor acne at least.
You may only end up with blemishes if you smoke an excessive amount of the herb. Indeed, the amount in question is likely far beyond what a human is reasonably capable of consuming. If you use weed and have acne, it is more likely that your general health and lifestyle contribute to the skin problem, rather than cannabis.
So… What Did You Eat Last Night?
Just about everyone who has consumed a hybrid or indica strain has had the munchies – even those who have consumed certain sativas, too. When the munchies arrive, they don’t make you crave healthy foods. Instead, you begin raiding your fridge and cabinets for everything that is remotely greasy, sugary, crunchy, salty, or sweet. Before you know it, your snack stash is wholly gone, and your belly is full in a blissful, albeit bloated state.
The consumption of unhealthy oils, fats, excessive salt, and too much sugar, are all widely linked to acne and an increase in blemishes, or irritations on the skin. Therefore, while smoking marijuana itself doesn’t cause acne, the ingredients in the food you turn to when you have the munchies are a contributing factor.
The Solution to Beating the Munchies?
If you want to keep using marijuana, remove all junk food from the house when it is time for another smoking session. There is a multitude of healthy snack options, which satisfy the cravings you get when stoned. For instance, swap processed chips for organic potato chips with natural seasoning (salt and vinegar or sea salt and cracked black pepper are amazing, FYI).
Replace your artificially colored and sweetened candies for organic options that use colorants from plant extracts and more-natural sources of sugar. Also, switch out as much wheat and flour as you can. For some sensitive individuals, slight gluten sensitivity may cause intense outbreaks. Steer clear of pizza, baked goods, and anything that involves dough or flour.
Exercise caution when choosing the marijuana strain type. Not all strains cause the munchies, but you must purposefully seek the ones that don’t. Here are a few that won’t have you clearing out your refrigerator. Durban Poison, ACDC, Black Beauty, Doug’s Varin, Jack the Ripper, and many others.
These strains are typically higher in cannabinoids other than THC, which may explain why they don’t cause the munchies.
Have You Checked Your Stress Levels Lately?
Cannabis use doesn’t directly cause acne, at least not in the way you think. Instead, there’s strong evidence to suggest that stress levels are a contributory factor. For some individuals, marijuana does not alleviate anxiety and stress. Instead, it enhances these unpleasant effects.
It’s a double-edged sword. Cannabis is both relief from stress and anxiety, and a culprit! Specific individuals are prone to THC-induced paranoia and increased anxiety. In this case, going through one of those experiences while high can amplify stress levels.
This occurrence is more common when you consume THC in higher doses. Sometimes, beginning with a lower dose prevents such episodes. There is ample research that shows a strong connection between an increase in acne and elevated stress levels.
A study by Zari and Alrahmani, published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, in December 2017, discovered as much. The team analyzed the stress levels of 144 sixth-year medical students from King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia. Overall, the researchers found a strong correlation between increased stress and heightened acne severity.
Alas, there are negative side effects of THC over-consumption, which can encourage stress. The result is a potential increase in acne.
Stress, Cannabis, and Acne: What Is the Solution?
CBD, otherwise known as cannabidiol, potentially neutralizes and decreases the paranoia and anxiety sometimes caused by THC. For this reason, having the perfect balance between CBD/THC in the cannabis you consume can work wonders. A great way to start is by picking a strain with a higher CBD percentage and a lower THC percentage.
- Sweet and Sour Widow
Consuming a high-CBD tincture is another option. Hailed as offering healing without the high, CBD doesn’t cause an intoxicating effect and may not share THC’s adverse effects, which include increases in anxiety or paranoia. CBD could significantly decrease your stress levels.
Is Marijuana Smoke Responsible for Acne?
The link between acne and smoking itself is well-known. A study by Capitanio et al., published in Dermato Endocrinology in May-June 2009, explored the issue. The researchers concluded that there was a “straight correlation between smoking habit and post-pubertal acne in which the clinically non-inflammatory type – APAA – is the most frequent.”
The likely reason is due to the toxins found in smoke. While marijuana smoke doesn’t carry as many toxins and carcinogens as its tobacco counterpart, it is far from harmless. Also, few people are aware of the origins of their herb. If a manufacturer treats it with chemicals, bad things could happen to your body in the long-term. A combination of toxins and chemicals go directly into your body’s system. Acne is potentially a side effect.
Cannabis Smoke and Acne: What Is the Solution?
Make sure you know where your marijuana is coming from. It helps if you are familiar with the practices used while growing your cannabis. In this case, at least you understand the decision you make when you opt to smoke weed. Choose organically grown marijuana that is free from toxic chemicals. Toxins not only damage your skin but your whole body.
Finally, if you think the smoke itself is at fault, pick a smoke-free option such as an edible, tincture, extract, or even a balm. The marijuana world is full of new ways to consume weed that don’t include lighting up. Perhaps you will enjoy a fun experience?
Hemp Might Help Acne
Although there is not much direct evidence of cannabis helping acne, topical creams derived from marijuana are used to treat skin conditions. Place the cream on the troublesome area, and leave it there for a specified period. These topical creams are typically CBD-heavy, or else suppliers derive cannabidiol from industrial hemp.
The results of a study by Olah et al., published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation in September 2014, give a little weight to the theory. The team studied the impact of CBD on the cells that create sebum in humans, sebocytes. Their research found that CBD stopped the cells from producing excess sebum.
Furthermore, the study found that CBD oil triggered an anti-inflammatory reaction in the cells. This process prevented the activation of inflammatory cytokines. Bear in mind that cytokines possibly trigger acne. Therefore, reducing them could reduce acne breakouts. Indeed, it is worth investigating whether CBD cream helps to moisturize dry, damaged skin.
Final Thoughts: Does Marijuana Help or Cause Acne?
If you are curious about weed’s connection with acne or are a regular marijuana consumer struggling with recent outbreaks, we hope this article has provided some clarity about this controversial topic. From what we know at present, the herb itself is unlikely to be responsible for the development of acne.
The more probable causes include cannabis smoke, stress, and lifestyle choices. Indeed, you could potentially reduce instances of acne by applying CBD balm to affected areas.
Smoking marijuana does have its side-effects. Here we explore whether smoking weed causes acne. Discover the truth in this complete guide.