Acne – Pimples – An Ayurvedic Perspective
Who doesn’t have a longing for flawless skin i.e. a skin which has no spots, no marks, no acne and no pimples. But how many of us are lucky enough to get the same. In fact there are very few people who have this kind of flawless skin and they are the people who actually take a lot of care about their skin. Today our topic of discussion is a problem of skin called acne or pimples . Let us try to find out, why we get pimples on our face.
Acne is a condition of inflammation or pimples on the skin. They occur mostly in the areas where there are plenty of active oily glands. This is the reason why acnes are mostly found to occur on the face, back, neck and upper arms. If not treated on time they can even leave scars.
To give us a detailed information on acne or pimples, today we have our Ayurvedic health expert, Dr. Parmeshwar Arora in our studio. Welcome to the show Dr. Parmeshwar.
Q. How would you describe the problem of acne or pimples?
I would like to tell our viewers that our facial skin or the skin of upper back and neck have a type of glands called sebaceous glands. The secretion from these sebaceous glands is called as sebum which is an oily substance. It is very important that the sebum should come out of the skin. The kind of atmosphere that surrounds us today contains lot of pollution and dust. These pollutants or dust particles get deposited on our skin and clog the pores present on it. Due to clogged up pores the way of sebum gets obstructed and hence instead of coming out the blocked sebum undergoes putrefaction i.e. a process of rotting. It gives rise to what we call, white heads and black heads which ultimately turn into pustules. And that’s how you become a victim of acne or pimples.
Q. I must say, you have explained the whole thing very nicely. Now, if we talk about the young generation, we often see that the problem of acne is quite rampant amongst them. What is the reason behind this?
Very good question indeed….Infact this is the age when one has a maximum desire for a flawless, spot-free skin and the irony is, this is the age when our skin is most prone to acne and pimples.
The sebaceous glands have a very limited activity till the age of 10-12 years. But as we grow older (particularly in the second and third decade of life) there is an increase in the activity of sebaceous glands such that they are found to be most active in the age bracket of 10-30 years. When I say most active, I mean during this stage, there is the maximum production of sebum from sebaceous glands. And, as you would agree, this is the age group when a person is going out the most. For any reasons, if the skin pores get blocked and sebum gets stuck inside the skin then it can lead to acne or pimples.
Q. As I have heard, there is a skin type called “combination skin” which has more probability of having acne-pimples. Why is it so?
If we consider the three skin types namely oily skin type, dry skin type and combination skin type (mixture of oily and dry skin type) then I would say the combination skin type is the most preferred skin type out of these three. This is because while dry skin will result in lack of glow on your skin, oily skin has its own problems. No doubt these sebaceous glands become a cause for acne but it can’t be denied that they play a very important role in maintaining moisture and lustre of the skin. It is neither desirable to have a dry skin type nor an oily skin type. While oily skin is more prone to acne-pimples, the dry skin makes your skin look dry.
Q. As you said, an increased activity of sebaceous glands is primarily responsible for acne-pimples. Besides this, is it possible that other factors like diet could also be responsible for having acne or pimples?
If we talk about the various causes of acne-pimples then there are roughly 5-6 categories of the reasons. They are: 1) Hormonal change – When a person enters adolescence, his/her body undergoes various hormonal changes. These can become a reason for developing acne-pimples. 2) Acne-pimples have a close association with stomach. Anybody who suffers from digestion related issues like acidity, constipation, loose motions etc. can be prone to acne-pimples. 3) Dandruff – It is a major cause of acne-pimples. You would agree that the kind of diet that we generally follow today has absence of milk, ghee, oil etc.. This results in a tendency of dryness in our skin and scalp. When the dandruff comes in contact of our skin, it causes acne-pimples. It could be a possibility that the only reason for acne on your face is the dandruff on your scalp. 4) Some people have a inclination towards sour and spicy food. They tend to eat too much of junk, fried and refined food. These can also become a major cause behind acne-pimples. So the pitta-vardhak aahar (food which aggravates pitta) can become a reason for having acne-pimples. 5) Lastly, if some toxins find their way inside our body, we may get acne-pimples. These are the cases where we say that the patient needs to consume blood purifiers to get rid of pimples. The toxins can enter our body through the medium of food or drugs.
Beyond everything, we should not ignore stress when we talk about the reasons for acne-pimples. Stress is found to have a direct relation with acne-pimples. Whenever people tend to go under stress they start to have acne and pimples. You would have noticed that many women have the problem of acne-pimples just before menstruation. This is attributed to PMT (pre menstrual tension) which leads to hormonal changes and acne-pimples follow.
Q. Talking about cosmetics, most of people use make-up these days. Rather I would say that they don’t take off the make-up properly. Can this also be a cause for acne-pimples?
As I said in the beginning of discussion, the sebum secreted from the sebaceous glands needs to come out of the skin. Anything which creates an obstruction in the passage of sebum will stop its exit from the skin. This sebum when deposited inside, undergoes a process of rotting and give rise to black heads, white heads or other similar presentations ultimately leading to acne-pimples. If you have to apply make-up, please ensure that you remove it properly and clean your skin too so that the skin pores open up and the sebum can come out of it. So, it is true that if you often apply make-up but don’t remove it properly in time then it can lead to acne and pimples.
Q. In terms of gender, who are more prone to acne-pimples, males or females?
Acne-pimples can be seen in case of both males and females. But when we talk about hormonal changes then females have more alterations as compared to men. This is the reason why the problem of acne-pimples too is found more in women than in men. Apart from this, the women are seen to have a bit more compromised attitude towards eating habits. They will readily eat precooked food or consume food prepared in the night, next morning… so this kind of attitude affects their digestion and make them more prone to pimples. So conclusively we can say that females are more prone to having acne-pimples than men.
Q. Sometimes, there are some kinds of allergic reactions on the skin too. They might present themselves as rashes or small eruptions. Should these be treated as pimples or they are something different?
The skin can have problems like acne-pimples, allergic reactions, eczema, psoriasis etc.. The type of lesions present on the skin give us a fair idea of the specific problem of the skin. Pimples as you would know, appear in the form of keel-muhanse or pustules. It is termed as yowan peerikayen in Ayurveda. If we talk about allergic reactions, say urticaria, you would observe a raised rash which would disappear in about an hour. Similarly, in case of eczema, the skin would become thick, dark etc.. Also, the skin can get cuts which may ooze out. In case of psoriasis, the skin becomes fish like i.e. reddish and shiny silver colored. Psoriasis patient would have a dry skin which would shed a white colored powder when scratched. So, depending upon the symptoms and appearance of lesion we decide whether the particular skin problem is eczema, psoriasis, allergic reaction or simple acne-pimples.
Q. To get rid of the problem is as important as it is to explore its various causes. Please tell us about various remedies which can help us to get rid of the problem of acne-pimples.
As I always say, if you want to get rid of a problem you would have to get to its cause. If the cause of acne-pimples is hormonal changes then we have certain Ayurvedic medicines like Pushpadhanwa and ashoka preparations to resolve the problem. As I said, in case of women we see a regular change in hormones. It is not limited to adolescence and even their monthly periods involve lots of variations in hormones. Because of this, they have to face a lot of problems related to acne-pimples. Here we have to create a hormonal balance where various hormones need to be regulated. We prescribe medicines for them.
If the acne-pimples is due to digestion related problem or constipation then I have a very simple recommendation. Such patients should consume abhaya churna. Isabgol husk (Psyllium seed husk) is also very useful in this case. Somehow here, your problem of acne suggests presence of excess of heat in your body. Isabgol (Psyllium seed husk) would help to suppress that heat (or pitta) as it is cold in property. Besides, it also helps in clearing bowel. Clear bowel ensures to a large extent that you have a good digestion. If you don’t have a clear bowel, it somehow obstructs vayu (air). This stagnant vayu disturbs the jatharagni (digestive power of stomach) which results in indigestion. To keep your bowel clear you can use abhaya churna and isabgol (Psyllium seed husk).
If the problem of pimples is due to toxins then I would suggest you to increase your water intake as much as possible. The more water you drink the more urination you would have and urination is a very good medium to cleanse or detoxify your body. Increasing the water intake gives very good results to the patients of acne-pimples.