Acne vulgaris is a skin condition which is due to the clogging of oil glands in the skin, and is the common form of acne, characterised by a mixed eruption of inflammatory and non-inflammatory skin lesions. Most common I adolescents, acne can occur at any age It commonly affects the face, but may spread to involve the neck, chest and back, or other parts of the body.
Sebaceous glands of the skin keep the skin lubricated and help to remove the old skin cells, but when these gland produce too much oil, the pores become blocked. Subsequently. dirt, debris and bacteria then accumulated, which then results in whiteheads, blackheads or full-grown pimples.
The major factors involved in the process are: (1) Increased serum production; (2) Cornification of pilo-sebaceous duct; (3) Microbial involvement and (4) Inflammatory processes of the sebaceous glands.
Acne can be triggered by hormonal changes, certain medications, consuming certain foods and diet, as well as stress (stress does not cause acne but can make it worse).
Treatment depends on the individuals age, sex, the extent and severity of the condition, how long it has been present, and the individuals’ response to previous treatment(s). Treatment can include: topical anti-acne preparations, lasers and lights, antibiotics, antiandrogens (e.g. birth control pill), and oral isotretinoin.
Ayurvedic Approach to Acne (Yauvana Pidaka):
According to Ayurveda, one of the main causes of acne stems from the hypo-functioning of the digestive fire (Agni), which leads to imbalance of the three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha with a predominance of Pitta). This leads to the impairment of the proper functioning and health of the blood and fat tissues, allowing for the production of toxins that block the pores, leading to the formation of acne. In different skin types, the symptoms, intensity, and the healing period differs according to diet and lifestyle factors.
Other causes of acne can include (some of which can lead to hypo-functioning of the digestive fire):
- Eating food before the previous meal is digested
- Eating when not hungry / fasting when hungry
- Incompatible food combinations
- Consumption of fatty and fried food and excess starch intake
- Inadequate intake of water
- Chronic constipation
- Unbalanced eating hours / skipping meals
- Heredity factors
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Irritant cosmetics
- Use of steroids
- Hormonal imbalances
- Improper skin cleansing
- Inadequate sleep
Vata dominant acne: Tends to present itself as small milia or blackheads, and the skin feels more congested/bump. The acne is generally small and dry, and not deep or pus-filled.
Pitta dominant acne: Tends to be red, inflamed and painful. It may also appear as milia, tiny white bumps or cysts, surrounding the eye. Or it may cluster around the nose and top lip.
Kapha dominant acne: Tends to be deep, large, cystic, fluid-filled, painful, and slow to resolve
BENEFICIAL AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR ACNE:
Vata Pitta Balancing: Turmeric, sariva, hibiscus, triphala, amalaki, guduchi, shatavari, punarnava
Vata Kapha Balancing: Turmeric, sariva, hibiscus, triphala, amalaki, guduchi, punarnava
Pitta Vata Balancing: Turmeric, sariva, hibiscus, triphala, amalaki, guduchi, shatavari, neem, punarnava
Pitta Kapha Balancing: Turmeric, sariva, hibiscus, triphala, amalaki, guduchi, shatavari, manjista, lodhra, daruharidra, punarnava, sandalwood
Kapha Vata Balancing: Turmeric, sariva, hibiscus, triphala, amalaki, guduchi, punarnava
Kapha Pitta Balancing: Turmeric, sariva, hibiscus, triphala, amalaki, guduchi, manjista, lodhra, daruharidra, punarnava, sandalwood
Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment(s) for Acne:
Ayurvedic treatment approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual, the current imbalances, their age, strength, severity of the condition, and if other conditions are also present. Treatment approaches can include:
- Avoid causative factors
- Balance Jataragni, and digestion
- Gently remove Ama (toxins within the digestive tract and body)
- Balance doshic imbalances through diet/lifestyle/herbs
- Intake of clean, wholefood, organic eating as much as possible
- Abhyanga oil massage, face/body packs/masks, steam therapy
- Panchakarma detox therapy (as required)
General Ayurvedic Nutritional Guidelines for Acne:
Ayurvedic nutritional approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. One should eat compatible foods, and in accordance to one's imbalances. Some additional general guidelines include:
- One should eat the foods that one does not react to.
- One should eat according to the digestive capacity, keeping meals light, cooked, warm moist and easy to digest. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
- One should eat at regular times/intervals. Avoid skipping meals.
- One should eat wholegrains and non-processed foods.
- Foods to avoid: Cold foods, raw foods, leftover foods (24 hours), frozen foods, cold water, processed and packaged foods, soft drinks and aerated beverages, high fat foods, greasy foods, extra salty foods, chilli type foods.
- One should avoid overeating. Allow 6 hours between meals and snack 3 hours after a meal and eat only if hungry. If digestion is poor, then 4 light meals per day is advisable in place of three regular meals.
- Breakfast should be easy to digest, lunch the main meal, and dinner should be lighter than lunch.
- Buttermilk consumed after meals is advisable.
- Eat home cooked meals, preferably made on the same day as being prepared.
- Water should be drunk warm in the cooler months and room temperature in the summer months. Avoid chilled water.
- Use all of the five senses at mealtimes. Savour the food that you are eating.
- Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
- Eat slowly, eat with respect/reverence for what you are eating, chew thoroughly.
General Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for Acne:
Ayurvedic lifestyle approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. Some general guidelines include:
- Allow for sufficient rest and sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day, and best before 10pm. Avoid also sleeping during the day.
- Keep to a routine as much as possible during the day.
- Get sufficient daily activity and exercise, without overdoing exercise. Balanced activity/exercise is healthy, but avoid over-exertion. Building up a light sweat is beneficial.
- Avoid stress, anxiety, fear and tension.
- Deep breathing for 10 minutes a day is very beneficial. Meditation, yoga and pranayama can also be highly beneficial.
- Make sure to be well rugged up in winter, especially when going outside.
- Avoid smoking and minimise alcohol and caffeine intake.
- Develop practices that centre around self-care.
- Look at counselling and/or stress management for self-care and working through any stress/emotional issues.
- Wash face twice a day with a very gentle natural cleanser.
- Use only natural cosmetics and keep makeup to a minimum where possible.
- Do not squeeze the pimples.
If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.