Acne is a skin condition in which there is excess production of oil from the sebaceous glands leading to the blockage of hair follicles. It is the most common problem of adolescents, and is therefore known as Yauvanpidika in Ayurveda; Yauvan means ‘adolescence’ and pidika means ‘pustules or papules’. Acne usually affects the face, back and shoulders and other areas that are densely populated with sebaceous glands. Acne presents either as blackheads, whiteheads, pimples or nodules.
The primary causative factor is vitiation (impairment) of all the three doshas, predominantly the Pitta Dosha, which further vitiates the rakta and meda dhatus (blood and fat tissues). Vitiated doshas produce toxins that block the energy channels of the face leading to pimple formation. The condition of acne can also be aggravated by excessive intake of oily, spicy, salty and sour foods.
Acne can present in any of the following forms:
- Pimples (blocked pores that are inflamed or infected)
- Cysts (blockages and inflammation deep inside the hair follicle)
Ayurveda has a singular approach to all forms of acne as this problem appears due to imbalance of the three doshas—Vata, Pitta and Kapha. However, the main cause is the aggravation of the Pitta Dosha, an Ayurvedic humor that symbolizes heat or fire. Pitta Dosha manifests in the skin and causes accumulation of heating toxins. These heating toxins accumulate in deep tissues like rasa (nutrient plasma), rakta, (blood), mamsa (muscles) and lasika (lymphatic). These toxins cause contamination of deeper tissues, leading to the condition of Yauvanpidika. Because acne is deep-rooted, use of local creams, antibiotics and lotions only masks the symptoms. Thus, specific Ayurvedic treatment is advised which includes right diet, lifestyle and some specialized herbal combinations that tackle the disease from its root cause.
Diet & Lifestyle Advice
- Avoid spicy, oily and sour foods
- Eat fresh, unprocessed food
- Increase the use of herbs that have cooling effects on the body like fennel, coriander seeds, Indian gooseberry (amla) and aloe vera
- Increase intake of water to about 8-10 glasses per day
- Wash your face frequently with mild herbal soaps
- Avoid irritant cosmetics
- Do not squeeze the acne lesions
Some Home Remedies
- Prepare a paste by mixing equal quantities of saffron, turmeric, margosa (neem), red sandalwood, basil and fuller’s earth with buttermilk or milk. Apply twice a day. You can skip saffron if it is not available.
- Prepare a powdered mixture of coriander seeds, fennel, basil, turmeric, and Indian gooseberry (amla) in equal parts. Take ½ teaspoon of this powder 15 minutes before lunch and dinner.
- Have 1 teaspoon of powdered Indian gooseberry fruit (amla) in morning and evening with water.