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Cannabis topicals provide an alternative to smoking, vaping, edibles, and tinctures. They’re products that you apply directly to your skin to treat pain, inflammation, skin irritation, acne, and more. Many topicals contain a variety of cannabinoids, including THC. If you’re concerned about the psychoactive compound in your system, you may be wondering, ‘can THC be absorbed through the skin?’ Here’s what you need to know.

How Cannabis Topicals Work

Cannabis topicals include creams, lotions, and balms that have been infused with cannabis. They may also contain additional ingredients to help you achieve specific results such as pain relief, relaxation, or treating skin issues. You apply them to your skin just as you would any other skincare product. When you do, the cannabinoids absorb into your skin and begin interacting with the cannabinoid receptors at the site. They help to restore balance to your endocannabinoid system (ECS), which can offer some much-needed relief. With all of that going, can THC be absorbed through the skin when you’re using these products?

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Can THC Be Absorbed Through the Skin And Get You High?

One of the main benefits of these types of cannabis topicals is that even if they contain THC, they can’t get you high. To experience the mind-altering effects of cannabis, the cannabinoid needs to get into your bloodstream and travel to your brain. While the THC in cannabis topicals does penetrate your skin, it doesn’t travel deep enough to reach your bloodstream. As such, it can’t travel to your brain to trigger the high most people associate with cannabis use.

Topicals Vs. Transdermal Patches

While cannabis-infused lotions, creams, and balms can’t get you high, there is one type of topical that can: a transdermal patch. The reason for this is because transdermal patches work differently than other infused topicals.

First off, what is a transdermal patch? It’s a thin piece of plastic coated with an adhesive, not unlike a bandage. The difference between the patch and a bandage, however, is that the adhesive is infused with cannabinoids, including THC. Your body’s heat activates the patch, which causes the cannabinoids to gradually penetrate your skin.

The thing about transdermal patches is that they cause cannabinoids to penetrate deeper. They can go deep enough to enter your bloodstream and travel to your brain. Keep in mind that while the THC in a transdermal patch can cause a high, it won’t be nearly as intense as if you smoked or consumed an edible. The main reason for the more subtle high is because your bloodstream receives a gradual infusion of THC, rather than getting the cannabinoids all at once. You may also receive more effective pain relief, as the cannabinoids are restricted to a local area. They travel throughout your body, offering greater coverage.

Take Care with Topicals

Can THC be absorbed through the skin? Users need to keep a couple of things in mind. Cannabis creams, lotions, and balms can’t get you high. THC doesn’t penetrate deep enough into your skin to enter your bloodstream. Even so, you should always take care when using these products. Touching your face or eyes can allow trace amounts of THC to get into your system. Even though you likely won’t feel it, a drug test may detect it. It can also remain in your system for several weeks. Always wash your hands thoroughly after each application.