Ayurvedic Guidance for Rosacea, Eczema and Adult Acne
Ayurvedic remedies for the toughest skin problems
A core philosophy in Ayurveda is that a healthy inside is necessary for a healthy outside. While that is quite relevant to maintaining healthy skin in general, it becomes particularly significant in the management of some of the hardest-to-treat skin conditions like rosacea and adult acne. The difference in the Ayurvedic approach (from traditional medical treatments) lies in pacifying the internal aggravating factors while addressing topical issues.
In this article we touch on time-tested practices from Ayurveda for management of four complex skin problems: Rosacea, Eczema, Psoriasis and Adult Acne.
Let’s start with foundational healthy-skin practices with great benefits for all.
- Include More Turmeric and Iron in your Diet: Ayurvedic doctors (and recently, many skincare experts!) recommend consuming nearly a tsp. a turmeric a day. Luckily, you have lots of ways to get your fill: cook with it, drink it in your favorite green juice - and if nothing else, pop an organic turmeric capsule! Great for pregnant women, turmeric also promotes healthy skin in newborns! Meanwhile, iron deficiencies can cause a host of issues from pale skin to dryness and itch, so make sure you are getting enough iron as well. Excellent sources include beets and carrot juice.
- Use Less Soap, and Wash at the Right Temperature: Soap generally shouldn’t be used on your face on a daily basis, unless you live in a tropical climate or have a job that requires spending all day in dust and grime. Soap use depends on dosha as well! Pitta skin tends to be a little more oily, so soap can be used more often (about three times a week). The recommended water temperature when washing your face depends on your dosha as well. Pittas should wash in cool water, kaphas in tepid water and vatas in warm-hot water.
- Massage with Oil: Massaging oil over your whole body is an excellent way to promote circulation and detox, both necessary for fighting skin ailments. The recommended types of oil: Vatas should use sesame oil, pittas should use sunflower oil and kaphas should use corn or canola oil.
Ayurveda for Rosacea: Rosacea is believed to emanate from a “pitta imbalance” and solutions focus on bringing your pitta into balance. Since there is no medical “cure” for rosacea in Western medicine, paying attention to the internal factors that cause the condition are crucial. Someone with a pitta imbalance is considered to have a “hot body” according to Ayurvedic tradition and a diet of cool, sweet and stabilizing foods should replace foods that are salty, sour or pungent. Try a pitta-pacifying diet.
Skip your skin-aggravating morning face wash for honey. Apply a layer of honey to the face before jumping in and remove with a warm washcloth while in the shower. A chamomile compress can be very helpful when experience a flare up, as chamomile is an excellent natural treatment for the redness. A cold cucumber paste applied to the skin can also provide rapid relief. Pitta balancing yoga poses like boat, bridge and chair will also help.
Ayurveda for Eczema: “Dry” skin conditions such as eczema, are believed to emanate from ‘vata’ imbalance, and addressing that imbalance is an important step in treating the condition. Dietary modifications can help in a big way. These include avoiding dry fruits, apples, melons, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, beef and peas as these aggravate vata further. Consumption of avocados, sweet fruits, cherries and oranges will help bring your vata back into balance.
Aloe vera gel or cream may also be used to gently massage the affected areas to add extra moisture. Antioxidant- and oil-rich avocado has a number of benefits for the skin, and is chock full of healthy fatty acids and vitamins. Mash up an avocado into a smooth paste and apply it evenly to the affected areas. Once it dries off (in roughly 15 minutes), rinse off with cold water. Also try a few drops of almond oil and massage into the skin for relief. Try vata-balancing yoga poses like Warrior I and II, and tree.
Ayurveda for Psoriasis: This condition is usually an auto-immune reaction that requires medical treatment, but Ayurveda does make several recommendations that can be used to prevent flare ups. Causes of psoriasis are considered genetic, but certain triggers can cause the condition to flare up or appear for the first time. These include stress, injury to certain areas of the body and certain medications.
Within Ayurveda there is a special relationship between the skin and the kidneys since the excretion of watery wastes is primarily the function of these two organs. Proper balance of urine and perspiration are related to pitta, and psoriasis is considered to be an example of disease resulting from an imbalance of perspiration and urine in the body. Responding to natural urges in a timely manner is a good practice for all but especially recommended for those with psoriasis, in order to maintain the body’s excretion balance. Toxin build up can be a psoriasis trigger, and additional detox measures can be very helpful in preventing flare-ups. Within Yoga, a series of sun salutations can be very effective for detox. Also try anxiety-calming practices such as meditation and Pranayama (Shitali Breath will be particularly helpful).
Dietary considerations include avoiding salty, sour or acidic foods. Another effective treatment is to soak 15-20 sesame seeds in a glass of water overnight and then drink the solution immediately in the morning. Also consider adding bitter gourd (or bitter melon) juice to your diet. While harder to source, these can have excellent results in managing psoriasis. An Ayurvedic topical solution is to place a fresh banana leave on the lesion.
Ayurveda for Adult Acne: As many discover, acne is that unfortunate condition that one doesn’t leave behind with other adolescent problems. Ancient Ayurvedic wisdom points to high amounts of pitta moving under the skin as the cause of adult breakouts. Stress, hormonal changes, exposure to chemicals and too much sunlight can be some of the many causes of high levels of pitta. A pitta pacifying diet and yoga asanas (see above) would be the first place to start. In addition, try these helpful remedies at home. Drink a small cup of aloe vera juice daily. For an effective overnight treatment, try rubbing melon on the skin at bedtime to cool and heal blemish prone skin. For a daytime treatment, mix about 1 teaspoon of chickpea flour (and optionally, a pinch of turmeric) with water until it is of the right consistency to make a paste, then spread the paste over the skin. After rinsing off, optionally apply a paste of almond powder and water and let it dry for about a half hour before rinsing it off. Also, give this relaxing facial exercise a try: rub your (clean) hands together until warm and place them on your face for about 15-30 seconds. This will boost circulation and help your facial skin naturally detox. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try “blue water”. While the skeptic in me questions this trick, I share because so many seem to find it effective! Store water in a well-lit area covered with blue cellophane and drink 2-3 glasses of it a day. Don’t forget to let me know if it works for you too!