Posted on: June 24, 2019 at 8:22 pm

Carter Padelford was born with a rare condition that causes painful ‘scales’ to erupt over his skin. Two years later, his parents were at their wit’s end. Their baby could barely close his eyes because of his lamella ichthyosis and the medication prescribed didn’t help. 


His mother, Shai-Anne, heard about the benefits of cannabis oil for skin conditions and decided to try it on Carter. As a result, his scales have almost completely disappeared.

What is Lamellar Ichthyosis?

Lamellar ichthyosis is a rare genetic skin condition. Infants with this disease are born with a shiny, waxy layer of skin, which they shed within two weeks. The skin beneath this layer becomes red and scaly.


Symptoms vary from patient to patient, but they may include:

  • Out-turned lips 
  • Ectropion (turned out eyelids so the inner rims of the eyes are exposed)
  • Hair loss
  • Extra thick skin on the palms of the hand and soles of the feet
  • Nail abnormalities
  • Dehydration
  • Respiratory issues

Unfortunately, there is no definite cure for this condition. There are ways to manage the symptoms, such as using creams and ointments to soften the skin and keep it hydrated. There are also ointments and drops available for those with ectropion. Treatment depends on the patient; every person’s case is different. [1]

For Baby Carter, his mother described his condition as, “his skin builds up into scales like a fish and it limits his ability to move.”

Carter Padelford’s Birth

“When he was born his skin was as red as a tomato and so tight to touch. It looked painful. He couldn’t even close his eyes,” Shai-Anne remembers.


“He was diagnosed with lamellar ichthyosis three days later.”

Carter couldn’t completely close his eyes and his movement was limited because of the tightness in his skin, which would often crack and bleed. His scales prevented him from sweating so his body couldn’t regulate his temperature properly. 

“I was using a no-touch thermometer about eight times a day to keep his temperature stable.”

His parents were heartbroken seeing their baby suffer this way. They slathered him with coconut oil and shea butter and gave him two oatmeal baths daily to soothe him.

“Babies with this are at a greater risk of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SIDS) because if they get too warm, they can suffocate,” says Shai-Anne.

They also had to exfoliate his scales off every three days. This was excruciating for baby Carter and his parents dreaded the process.

Shai-Anne tried to treat her baby with AmLactin, a medication recommended by Carter’s doctors, but it didn’t help the baby’s painful condition.

She says, “The standard way to treat this is a drug called AmLactin, which is a lactic acid that burns away the top layers of the skin. Other patients I’ve met with this disorder say it feels like they’ve been put in an oven when they apply it.

“I’ve tried it for Carter but it just wasn’t working. Other than that, we’ve had no support from doctors in terms of treatment for this. I used to spend my days just lathering him with coconut oils and homemade organic creams.”

 Treating Lamellar Ichthyosis with Cannabis Oil

Everything changed when Shai-Anne read an article about how cannabis oil can relieve chronic skin conditions. There is some evidence for this as well as some research has shown that CBD (Cannabidiol), the non-psychoactive component in cannabis, could help treat acne, psoriasis, eczema, and itch. [2] When it comes to lamellar ichthyosis specifically in this regard, the evidence is lacking. However, Carter’s case cannot be discounted, and he could be an exceptional case study. 

“I was at my wit’s end with it when I read about cannabis oil and the benefits it can have for people with skin conditions like Carter’s. I’m a medicinal user so I decided to try it,” Carter’s mother said. 

Fortunately, cannabis oil is legal in the family’s hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada to those over the age of 21.

Shai-Anne and Zach poured some of the oil into their homemade butters and bath bombs and began to slowly rub Cartner with them. Seven months later, Carter is like a completely different child. His scales have almost completely vanished. His skin no longer cracks and he’s able to sweat normally. The oil helped loosen the skin around his eyelids, allowing them to fully close for the first time. Best of all, the painful exfoliating process does not need to be done as frequently.

Feeling Helpless

“Doctors didn’t offer us much advice or help,” says Shai-Anne. “I feel they neglected us because they didn’t know what was going on. They told me to keep him covered and to avoid baths and to come back in two years when he was two. It was traumatizing. There were no road signs and so few treatment options.

“Seven months later he doesn’t even look like the same child. He used to have no hair because of his scales but now his hair is starting to grow. He used to have open sores that would be bleeding but his skin has almost completely cleared up. His eyes could never close completely but since I’ve been using the oil on his eyelids they are almost closing all the way. His progress has been insane.”

She fears Carter’s condition would regress if she stops using cannabis oil. Overall, she feels disappointed by the medical system. “Other sufferers I’ve met have been blown away by his pictures and his progress and are thinking about trying it themselves to see if it works for them.

“I just want him to have a normal life, and this is the only treatment that has offered him the chance at that.”

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.

Sarah Schafer
Founder of The Creative Palate
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender. Her blog The Creative Palate shares the nutrition and imagination of her recipes for others embarking on their journey to wellbeing.

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