Cannabis For Epidermolysis Bullosa
Epidermolysis bullosa is a group of rare skin conditions characterized by blistering skin. Minor injuries such as rubbing, heat, and scratching can cause the blisters to appear.
In severe cases of epidermolysis bullosa, the blisters may even occur within the body, such as in the stomach or lining of the mouth. Most cases of this condition are inherited, and symptoms can appear during infancy or even early childhood. However, some individuals don’t develop symptoms until adolescence or adulthood. The symptoms include fragile skin which blisters easily especially in the hands and feet, blisters in the throat and mouth, thick skin on the soles and palms of the feet, scalp scarring and blistering, hair loss (scarring alopecia), itchy and painful skin, difficulty swallowing, tiny white pimples or skin bumps, and thin skin.
There are no known cures for epidermolysis bullosa; but mild cases may sometimes improve as the patient gets older. The treatment for this condition is focused on healing blisters while preventing new ones from appearing. Home care and lifestyle changes are usually adequate to care for blisters and prevent new ones from spreading. Medicines may also be prescribed to prevent itching and pain, as well as controlling infection in the blood stream which can cause sepsis. However, in some cases, rehabilitation and surgery may be needed. Surgery to widen the esophagus, using a feeding tube, and skin grafting may be necessary.
When untreated, epidermolysis bullosa may develop complications such as infection, sepsis, fusion of fingers, changes in joints, malnutrition (when blisters appear in the mouth and make eating difficult, which leads to malnutrition), dental problems, constipation, skin cancer, and even death. Infants with epidermolysis bullosa are more prone to survival problems especially if they are born with a severe case.
How Cannabis Can Help
Brand-new research from Stanford University and West Virginia University has found that cannabidiol (CBD) is effective in treating epidermolysis. “Epidermolysis bullosa is a rare blistering skin disorder that is challenging to manage because skin fragility and repeated wound healing cause itching, pain, limited mobility, and recurrent infections,” says the abstract. “Cannabidiol, an active cannabinoid found in cannabis, is postulated to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.”
To conduct the study, researchers “report 3 cases of self-initiated topical cannabidiol use in patients with epidermolysis bullosa in an observational study.” One of the participants “was weaned completely off oral opioid analgesics, and all three ‘reported faster wound healing, less blistering, and amelioration of pain with cannabidiol use.”
The study concludes, “Although these results demonstrate promise, further randomized, double-blind clinical trials are necessary to provide scientific evidence of our observed benefits of cannabidiol for the treatment of epidermolysis bullosa.”
Other ways cannabis can help:
Analgesic: One common symptom of epidermolysis bullosa is the chronic pain that can oftentimes be debilitating. The pain, felt in affected areas of broken and blistered skin, can also be apparent when complications arise such as deformity, loss, or fusion in the toes and fingers. Since this condition is rare, there is little scientific evidence of how cannabis can specifically treat the pain from this condition although there is anecdotal evidence of such. A patient named Miguel Garcia has uploaded videos documenting how cannabis has been effective in helping him numb the pain associated with epidermolysis bullosa, and he said that he no longer needed to use opioid painkillers like oxycodone or hydrocodone. Additionally, cannabis is well-known for its painkilling properties caused by a multitude of conditions.
Inflammation: Inflammation is the root cause of most blistering in epidermolysis bullosa. Cannabis is known for its inflammation-killing properties, whether for skin conditions or others. The skin holds numerous cannabinoid receptors which help regulate immune responses and reduce oxidative stress. In a 2013 study conducted by researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany, it was demonstrated that animal models showed significant improvement in dermatitis symptoms when THC was topically applied.
Antibacterial: Patients with epidermolysis bullosa are prone to infections, which lead to complications because broken skin is exposed to pathogens found in the environment. Infections don’t just cause even more pain, but it also slows down any healing and can even cause the affected area to become necrotic, worsening the patient’s overall health. Individuals with this skin condition are most prone to wound-colonizing bacteria such as staphylococcus, diptheroids, streptococcus, candida, and pseudomonas.
Have you used cannabis to treat epidermolysis bullosa? Share your experience with us in the comments below!