We’ve all heard about CBD, and how it features in studies of epilepsy, and potentially numerous other conditions like anxiety, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer's, and depression. But is there any research into CBD and the treatment of sunburn?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most common cannabinoid. Many researchers are fascinated by the compound because of ongoing research into its interaction with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). Unlike its more popular companion THC, CBD is non-psychotropic according to a review by the World Health Organisation (WHO). CBD is usually sold in oral form, but topical CBD also exists and is especially relevant to skin issues. Before we dive into scientific conclusions on CBD and sunburn, we’ll begin with a brief overview of what a sunburn is.


A sunburn is the skin’s reaction to ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays cause damage to the skin; a sunburn occurs when the body sends inflammatory cells to the site of the damage in an attempt to heal, guard the skin against further damage, and motivate the human to get out of the sun. Sunburns are a delayed response, and will appear sometime after the sun exposure that caused them. Peak redness will appear 12–24 hours after exposure. Sunburn symptoms are generally limited to redness, peeling skin, and pain, but can include nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills in some cases. Following a sunburn, if you find yourself fainting, experiencing low blood pressure, or becoming very weak, go to a hospital.

There are two types of UV rays that reach earth from the sun: UVA and UVB. UVA rays have a longer wavelength and penetrate the skin more deeply, while UVB rays have a shorter wavelength and only penetrate the skin superficially. UVB rays are what cause sunburns, though UVA rays contribute to skin ageing and cancer risk. When choosing a sunscreen, make sure to choose one with broad-spectrum protection that guards against both.

Sunburn CBD Skin


According to research, CBD has previously exhibited traits that could be of use to those suffering sunburn. Examples include anti-inflammatory, which targets the main mechanism of sunburn-related pain; antibacterial, which is useful since burned skin is especially susceptible to infection; antioxidant, which is useful in fighting free radicals. CBD is also believed to elevate anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid involved in several biological processes.

However, there has not actually been any research on the direct impact of CBD on sunburn. All the above studies do is suggest that CBD has mechanics that could be beneficial.


Topical CBD is any lotion, balm, salve or cream infused with the cannabinoid. CBD oil can also be used topically. Before application, wash your skin gently with a washcloth. Apply the topical generously, in several layers. You may want to consider a CBD topical that also includes aloe vera. Aloe vera has been shown in studies to suppress the inflammatory response exhibited by damaged skin.

If for whatever reason you’d rather not use a topical, smoking a high-CBD cannabis strain could also provide relief according to a 2007 study. Painkiller XL would be an excellent choice; it contains 9% CBD and is sativa-dominant, so it won’t slow down your summer fun. If you’d like even more CBD, go for Royal Medic; at 12% CBD, you can’t go wrong! If you’d rather not get high at all, try CBD oil for some non-psychotropic relief.

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