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Cannabis Used to Treat Inflammatory and Pruritic Conditions

While cannabis is still considered illegal in many places, its use is currently legalized in some form in 33 states across the country. Research has begun to explore cannabis and cannabinoids for immunosuppressive, anti-inflammatory, and anti-pruritic properties. A research group out of Washington state presented their findings on cannabis use among dermatology patients. Their findings were presented as a poster at the American Academy of Dermatology Virtual Meeting Experience 2020.

To determine the cannabis use among their patient population, the authors designed a cross-sectional, anonymous survey of adult dermatology patients at two academic dermatology clinics. To be include, participants had to be greater than or equal to 18 years of age and speak English. If interested in the study, patients filled in a paper survey regarding skin condition, current/past cannabis use, frequency of use, methods of use, indications for use, and effect on skin condition.

In total, 207 participants (57.3% female, mean age 49 years) completed the survey. Among the most common skin conditions reported were atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, hidradenitis suppurativa, acne, actinic keratosis, pruritus, alopecia, melanoma, nonmelanoma skin cancers, psoriasis, skin cysts, tinea, and urticaria. However, 79 (38.2%) patients reported using cannabis/cannabinoid products, and only 22 (10.6%) patients used these products to treat their skin condition.

Of the 22 patients, 63.6% of patients used cannabis cream/oil, 59.1% used cannabidiol cream/oil, 27.3% used a vaporizer, and 22.7% used edibles. Most interestingly, patients with inflammatory skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and hidradenitis suppurativa, were more likely to treat their condition using cannabis products than patients without noninflammatory conditions (P=.022). The majority of patients who used a cannabis-based product for their skin condition reported seeing a slight improvement in severity.

The researchers suggest dermatologists regularly inquire about cannabis use. They also recommend future studies explore the safety and efficacy of cannabis-based products for the treatment of dermatologic conditions.


Mahurin HM, Hippe DS, Maier LE. Cannabis use among general dermatology patients. Presented at:  American Academy of Dermatology Virtual Meeting Experience 2020; June 12-14, 2020.

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