Ayurveda For Acne: Causes, Symptoms and Ayurvedic Treatment

Annoyed by pimples? Here’s an ayurvedic guide you need to achieve that flawless skin By Dr. Tabassum Hasan. Do you remember the last time when you were planning to attend a wedding function? From dresses to matching shoes you took care of everything and were ready to dazzle everybody. But guess what? All of a sudden on that very day you got a new pimple on your forehead. Yes, we know how it feels. Those pesky red pimples seem to always appear before any important event in our lives. Almost every one of us suffered this embarrassing situation at some point of our existence, especially in our teenage years. But is there any solution for it? Can we avoid them? What are the causes? Let’s find out answers to all these questions.

Table of contents

• What is Acne?
• Causes and Risk Factor of Acne
• Symptoms of Acne
• When You Need to See Your Doctor
• General Tips For Acne
• What to Eat and Avoid
• Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

What is Acne?

In ayurvedic literature, acne has been described as yuvan pidika or tarunya pitika because it primarily affects adolescents or young people. In some texts, it is also called mukh dushika because it spreads mainly on the face of a person and has inflammation and scarring.

Acne is characterized by saruja (mildly painful), filled with meda (pus or oily secretions), shalmali (Salmalia malabarica) thorn-like eruption on the face. These pilosebaceous follicles are distinguished as comedones, papules, pustules, and scars. It mainly affects the cheek, chin, forehead, nose, and upper trunk of the body.

According to global burden of disease (GBD) study, almost 85% of young adults aged between 12-15 years get affected by this dreadful condition. Although it is not a life-threatening condition, but it impacts the social life and emotional well-being of the affected individual.
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Causes and Risk Factor of Acne

According to classical ayurvedic texts, acne is manifested due to vitiated vata dosha and kapha dosha. These doshas further vitiate rasa-raktadi dhatu, primarily rakta dhatu(blood). As result, there is excessive sweda(sweat) production, which obstructs the skin pores. This leads to local swelling and microcomedones formation. Rupture of these micro comedones leads to scarring. Vata dosha and rakta dosha also causes hyperpigmentation.

The factors which lead to all of this are mainly divided into 4 types:
• Time or age factors- young age or adolescents, summers or spring season.
• Dietary pattern- excessive sweet and spicy, heavy and oily food, milk and its products, meat and alcohol.
• Lifestyle factors- Insomnia, holding natural urges, excessive sleep, excessive sunbath.
• Psychological factors- Anger, stress, depression, and behavioral changes.

Other than the above factors, few other factors are also responsible for acne like genetics, hormonal changes, etc. Furthermore, menstrual cycle, anxiety and tension, oil-based makeup, exposure to pollution, skin allergies due to certain medication, hot and humid climate, greasy hair, and squeezing the pimples will make these conditions worse.

Symptoms of Acne

Acne is described under kshudra rogas (minor ailments) in Ayurveda. Kshudra means minimum that means these diseases happen with minimum causative factors, signs and symptoms, and requires minimum medical intervention. Acne also doesn’t have deadly symptoms but it surely affects your self-confidence. Some of these symptoms are stated below-

• Shalmali kantakakara pitika- acne resembles with the thorn of salmalia malabarica as it’s an eruption in a conical shape
• Saruja- These can be mild to moderate painful lumps.
• Ghana- The eruption is hard, thick, or indurated due to vitiated kapha.
• Medogarbha- Due to obstruction of pores or pilosebaceous glands, it is filled with pus.
• Yuna mukhe- This disease usually affects young people or adolescents.

Apart from these symptoms, some associated symptoms are also there like itching, burning, and secretions. Mental health is also affected as it has a huge impact on someone’s looks.

When You Need to See Your Doctor

Generally for acne, people prefer to have OTC (over-the-counter) products. Mild to moderate acne will calm down after the use of these gels or creams in the course of over 4 to 6 weeks. But what if these products stopped working or you have stubborn nodular or cystic acne? Then you definitely need to see your dermatologist. Also if your physical appearance is taking a toll on your mental health, a doctor will help you to combat this situation.
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General Tips for Acne

Everyone dream to have smooth, silky, and radiant skin. But having acne is a big hurdle to achieve that flawless skin. In this scenario, you can take the help of ayurvedic tips to get rid of those pimples:
• To flush out toxins (ama) in your body, you should take warm water in the morning. Mixing lemon juice in it will also give you a daily dose of vitamin C.
• To balance your body doshas, you can take Triphala. It will remove toxins and reduce your acne. Take 1 teaspoon Triphala powder with warm water.
• Shatavari is also a good ingredient to balance hormones. It will also help in pacifying pitta dosha and treat hormonal acne. You can take one teaspoon of Shatavari powder and boil it in one glass of water. When this will reduce to half, you can consume it.
• Ashwagandha is a popular herb for skin disorders. Its anti-inflammatory, detoxifying properties make it suitable for acne treatment. Take one teaspoon of ashwagandha powder and take it with water or honey.
• Apart from these, blood purifiers told in classical ayurvedic literature like sariva, manjishtha, draksha, and neem are also beneficial for acne treatment. You can include them in your daily routine to purify the blood and balance your doshas. They also have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
• Drinking amla juice daily can help you as amla helps in balancing your doshas. Amla also contains vitamin C which is a potent anti-oxidant.  This will reduce harmful free radicals and will keep acne at bay.
• Fennel seeds and coriander seeds concoction is also a good option as it will cool down your body heat. Take one teaspoon of both and boil it in one glass of water. When it will reduce to half, take it after it cools down.
• As clogged pores are the cause of acne, you should wash your face at least twice a day. Use gel-based mild cleansers according to your skin type.
• Avoid touching your face as your fingers usually have bacteria on them. Touching your face can lead to transfer of those bacteria to your face and this can result in infection.
• You should avoid squeezing the pimple. Yes, we know that you have a strong urge to pop that pimple. But always remember that it will lead to more scars.
• Always use a broad spectrum SPF if you are stepping out of your house. Even inside your home, you should at least wear sunscreen of SPF 30.

What to Eat and Avoid

As the saying goes, what you eat appears on your face. This is definitely true in the case of acne. Our skin health says a lot about the way we eat. So if you are someone whose diet is full of junk food and sweetened beverages, then you need to reconsider your food choices. Follow these dietary rules to get rid of your skin ailments and for a healthier complexion-
• Always eat homemade fresh food. Make it light and less spicy.
• Amaranth, barley, oats, rice are healthy grains for you. Include them in your diet.
• Fresh vegetables like bitter gourd, leafy greens, cauliflower, peas, okra, bell peppers are good for your skin and health.
• Soaked almonds and nuts are also a good option as they contain healthy fats that your body needs.
• Eat fruits like apple, oranges, mango, watermelon, dates, figs, pineapple, cherries, grapes, and lime.
• Turkey, salmon, and freshwater fish are the best options if you are a non-vegetarian.
• Always avoid refined grains and sugars like white bread, pasta, noodles, sodas, and artificial sweeteners.
• Heavy and spicy diets create an imbalance between doshas, so try to avoid them.
• Consuming dairy products is also not advised if you are suffering from acne.
• Fast foods like burgers, chowmein, French fries, nuggets, and soda drinks are a big NO if you want to have good and healthy skin.
• Avoid meat (especially red meat) and alcohol consumption as these create havoc on your skin.

Other than that you should keep track if you are allergic to any particular food, foods that may cause bloating or increase inflammation in your body. Just follow these simple rules and you will start noticing a positive difference in your skin soon.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q1. How acne scars can be removed?
 In Ayurveda, there are several local applications for acne scars like haldi, sandalwood, multani mitti. However, in modern medical treatments like microdermabrasion, chemical peeling, micro-needling, fillers, punch excision, and laser resurfacing are prescribed for different types of lesions. Topical treatments like antibiotics (clindamycin and erythromycin), benzoyl peroxides, and vitamin A acid derivatives like tretinoin are also helpful for mild to moderate scars.

Q2. Why acne occurs on the face?
 Acne occurs when your pores get clogged by oil, pus, dead skin, or bacteria. It’s like a small red protuberance with pus at its head. This can happen on your shoulders, back, and chest too.

Q3. Which acne cream is best for oily skin?
 Creams with active ingredients like neem, tea tree oil, aloe vera, turmeric are best suitable for acne. In Ayurveda, there are different types of face masks for acne. Some of those are vachaadi lepa, dhanyakaadi lepa, lodhraadi lepa, jayaphalaadi lepa, manjishthaadi lepa and kumkumaadi taila etc. Other than these, you can look for ingredients like bakuchiol, Centella asiatica, honey, colloidal oatmeal, willow bark extract, and resveratrol in your acne products.

Q4. Can acne scars be removed permanently?
 Most of the acne scars get faded over time. As our skin gets renewal after almost 5-6 weeks. That means dead skin cells get replaced by new skin cells. So our scars naturally go away. But in the case of severe scarring, one should get treatment by a dermatologist. They can surely help you to reduce the appearance of your scar.

Q5. Can acne scars be removed naturally?
 Several home remedies like lemon juice, potato juice, turmeric powder, aloe vera, and gram flour are used for ages to remove hyperpigmentation and scars.

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