By Dr. Gokulan B G, Ayurveda
Acne is a long-term skin disease that is caused because of the clogging of hair follicles due to dead skin cells. Its main characteristic is the breakouts of pimples, blackheads, etc.
The types of acne include:
- Blackheads: These are visible clearly, black and occur on the skin’s surface.
- Whiteheads: These are very small and occur under the skin
- Pustules: These are red at the base and have pus in the upper parts.
- Papules: Small and pink bumps that are visible on the surface of the skin.
- Nodules: Large and solid pimples which are painful; these are embedded deep in the skin
- Cysts: Cysts are filled with pus and are painful; they are visible on the surface of the skin.
Causes of Acne include:
- Medications: Medicines such as lithium and corticosteroids cause acne to develop.
- Changes in hormone levels in the body: Increase in the secretion of oil which when mixed with dead cells, causes clogging giving rise to acne. The levels of androgen are believed to play a major role in this problem.
- Endocrine system: Certain conditions of the system such as Cushing’s syndrome (a medical condition resulting from an exposure to increased ‘cortisol’ levels over a prolonged period of time) and Polycystic
- Ovary Syndrome (a condition that results in the formation of small cysts on the outer sides of the enlarged ovaries) can lead to the formation of acne.
In Ayurveda, the condition is known as ‘Youvana Pidaka’ (Youvana means youth and pidaka means an eruption on the skin). Some forms of Ayurvedic treatment of acne include:
- Herbs: Herbs that can be used to treat acne have astringent and severe tastes and help detoxify and filter the blood. Astringent taste aids in drying the oil (sebum) and bitter herbs such as ‘Neem’ and turmeric ease the skin inflammation due to its anti-bacterial effect. Some common herbs are:
- Nimba (Neem): A very good blood-purifier and prevents further damage to skin
- Rakta Chandana (Red Sandal): Improves blood circulation.
- Sariva (Hemidesmus indicus): Acts as a coolant and enhances skin complexion. It is also a good blood purifier.
- Daruharidra: Reduces acne scars
- Ashwagandha, Shatavari and Ashoka: These correct hormonal imbalances
- Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry): Nourishes blood and skin
- Haridra (Turmeric): Reduces oily nature of skin
- Medication: Oral Ayurvedic medicines that can be used for treating acne include:
- Triphala guggulu: Dries sebum, clears pores and channels
- Mahamanjishtadi Kashaya: Detoxifies and cleanses blood
- Triphaladi Kashaya: Cleanses pores
- Usheerasava and Khadirarishta: Purifies blood
- Panchakarma: If the condition worsens, effective Ayurvedic Panchakarma treatments such as Vamana (vomiting therapy) and Virechana (purging techniques) can be utilized.