Ayurveda & Skin Disorders: Eczema, Psoriasis and Dermatitis

According to statistics, about 8 million people in the UK are afflicted with some form of skin disease which is reported to be among the most common complaint GPs have to treat every day. Eczema, for instance, affects one in five children and one in twelve adults. The social stigma arising from the condition can leave a painful mark on everyday life that is more than skin deep. Depression, or worse, is often the outcome of inhibited self-confidence and limiting opportunities that people with skin disorders tend to regrettably experience.

The unparalleled and ancient, natural healing system of Ayurveda offers the most effective and sophisticated relief for all skin disorders immaterial of the severity of the condition.

What is Ayurveda?

Modern medicine’s scientific evidence of the mind-body connection was discovered in the Indian subcontinent when Ayurveda was developed thousands of years ago. It is one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful health systems for more than merely a means of treating physical illness. Ayurveda literally means ‘the science of life’ (“Ayu” in Sanskrit meaning life and “Veda” meaning science or knowledge) is an ancient and dynamic body of wisdom derived to help people live at their optimum best and lead vibrant, happy lives.

Causes of skin disease

Skin disorders are primarily a result of incorrect diet and lifestyle leading to an imbalance in what is referred to in Ayurveda as the ‘Vishama Agni’ or digestive fire. When the digestive fire is imbalanced, either too high or too low, some of the food is converted into toxins which then circulate throughout the body until it is eventually deposited on the superficial fascia – and where these toxins cause dryness of the skin, irritation, scaling or inflammation and infection.  Like a blocked and overflowing drain, the body finds the point of least resistance to deposit toxins.

Even though skin disorders are influenced by genetics, they can be eliminated or significantly reduced by using the right combination of topical Ayurvedic preparations for healing and repair of skin along with diet and lifestyle choices compatible to your individual constitution or Dosha. So, the first step in the Ayurvedic management of skin disorders is to know your predominant Dosha.

Which Dosha are you?

There are three Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – that fundamentally, every person is a combination of. Each Dosha contains specific qualities which when combined, like gene codes or DNA, produces the uniqueness an individual is associated with. Consequently, each Dosha is a combination of two of the five elements – space, air, fire, water and earth.

Vata has the light and mobile qualities of air and space; Pitta is passionate and energetic like fire; and Kapha is steady and reliable like earth.

Once a person understands their own constitution (particularly with the help of an Ayurvedic doctor) and re-orders any imbalance through the use of diet, lifestyle, medicinal herbs, and detox treatments such as Panchakarma, they can expect to live unhindered by skin disorders.

The three types of skin disorders

Ayurveda recognised that skin was made up of three main layers long before the advent of microscopy.

The superficial fascia is constantly required to adjust and repair itself from exposure to the atmosphere and elements around us. The epidermis, as a result, tends to frequently get dry, flaky and irritable. People who are predominantly Vata (air and ether elements) are more likely to suffer with irritable skin disorders at the most superficial layer. Hence, Vata individuals have a greater tendency to dry skin, dry eczema, irritable skin, and dandruff. Damp weather, dry, cold and raw food and stress tend to aggravate and increase Vata Dosha. Reducing exposure to these aggravators can help to eliminate this disorder, as well as applying the right moisturiser and making simple adjustments to lifestyle and diet. Vata-type eczema like Vata people, however, is ‘easy come, easy go’, so the condition is not lasting.

The second layer of skin consists of more connective tissue, blood vessels and plasma and tends to be moister and warmer. When toxins or Ama circulate in this layer, skin tends to get irritable, heaty and red. Hot blooded ‘Pitta’ individuals (fire and water elements) are more prone to a type of heaty, red and inflammatory eczema, as well as rosacea, dermatitis and other types of inflammatory skin disorders. Stress and anger can further exacerbate the disorders but application of suitable moisturisers, following a Pitta-reducing diet and stress-relieving adjustments to lifestyle significantly help with the healing process.

Pitta people are characterised by their dominant qualities and so pitta skin disorders take some effort to be overcome.

The third layer is made up of connective tissue, fat and blood and is the moistest layer of the skin with a far greater tolerance for toxicity. However, when toxins build up to saturation point, disorders begin to surface slowly. When affected, the third layer is the hardest to cure. Normally, people with Kapha constitutions (earth element) are more prone to disorders of the third layer, such as psoriasis, infected boils and wet eczema. With effort and a longer term approach, through application of the correct moisturisers, herbs, and adjustments to lifestyle and diet as well as deep-cleansing programmes like Panchakarma, Kapha skin disorders can be cured. Typical of the earth element, the disorder takes a long time to form and a longer time to eliminate, but once cured, may never relapse.

How can skin disease be eliminated?

Only individualised, Dosha-diagnosed treatment and healthcare provided by an Ayurvedic physician can identify the unique cause of disorder, eliminate built-up toxicity in the body and heal, repair and help maintain healthy skin.

Basic tips for the elimination of any type of skin disorder:

  • Daily moisturisation of the skin with a suitable cream such as Dermaved
  • Protecting the skin from extreme weather conditions
  • Improving circulation by staying properly hydrated and taking regular exercise, especially stretching, yoga or walking
  • Gentle regular sweating to expel toxins from the system
  • Following a diet which regulates proper bowel movement
  • Avoiding acidity, red meat, red fish, tropical fruit, red wine, tomatoes, cold raw salads, nuts and seeds
  • Passing urine regularly throughout the day whenever the body requires
  • Reducing stress through meditation or leisure activity

 

Guidance for Vata, Pitta, Kapha constitutions

 VataPittaKapha
Foods to avoidDry, cold, rawAcidic, raw, spicy and diary/sour foodsDairy, starchy, creamy, sugary
Lifestyle essentialsGood night’s sleep; maintaining routine in lifestyleStress reduction; meditationRegular vigorous exercise; regular meals
MealtimesRegular meal times 3 times a dayAvoid frequent mealsModerate food intake
Physical activityYoga, walking, swimmingRegular relaxing exercise such as yogaRegular, vigorous, aerobic exercise

Dermaved Cream

Dermaved sensitive cream is like a little hug for dry and sensitive skin, smoothing its way over dry patches leaving skin feeling cool and soft. All the gentle kindness your skin needs. Harness the power of the rain forest to restore the balance and moisture of your skin.

Visit www.theayurvedicclinic.com for more information

Dr Deepika Rodrigo (B.A.M.S) is a leading Ayurvedic Physician who practises from The Ayurvedic Clinic, established in 1997. She specialises in the treatment of skin conditions. Call 020 8405 4407 or visit www.theayurvedicclinic.com.

 

[1] British Skin Foundation: http://www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk/AboutUs/Whatisskindisease.aspx

[2] National Eczema Society: http://www.eczema.org/about-eczema