Acne

Acne or pimples is probably the most common skin complaint. It is an inflammatory condition of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles which get clogged with sebum (oil) and dead skin cells. Acne vulgaris is triggered by hormonal changes that happen during puberty.

Acne is not just limited to the face, more severe cases may manifest on the neck, chest, back and shoulders. This unsightly condition usually rears its ugly head during puberty and worsens during adolescence. Acne plagues nearly 85% of people in the age group of 12-25. Studies show that 20 million teens have some form of acne. Acne may occur as early as age 10, and sometimes even in the newborn. While many report being acne-free post 30, some people may continue to face this problem even in the later years due to hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, etc.

Types of Acne and Pimples

There are various types of acne and pimples as shown below:

Types of Acne and Pimples

Symptoms of Acne

Blackheads, pimples, small superficial sebaceous cysts and scars affect your forehead, temples, cheeks, chin, chest, back and in rare cases, the whole body.

  • Skin lesions – These can vary from whiteheads or blackheads to small red bumps (papules) and/or large lumpy nodules or cysts. Whiteheads and blackheads are filled with oil and dead skin cells, while pustules contain pus.
  • Scars – Acne may leave behind temporary marks or permanent pits/scars on the skin.
  • Pain and itching – Large and pus-filled pimples may be infected and painful, they may also itch
  • Change in color – Skin may become reddened due to inflammation. While non-inflamed acne does not cause the skin to become red, it will make the texture of your skin rough.

Root Causes of Acne

  • Irregular hours of eating, excessive consumption of starch, sugar, fried & fatty foods
  • Toxins (ama), formed due improper movement of bowels, finding their way into the blood stream
  • Unhygienic living habits and not cleansing the skin well (especially in the case of oily skin)
  • Excessive intake of tea, coffee, alcohol or tobacco
  • Bacterial infection caused by Propionibacterium acnes bacteria that may multiply and cause inflammation
  • Certain medications like antidepressants, contraceptives, and drugs containing androgens, lithium and corticosteroids
  • Oil-based lotions and creams that can increase greasiness of the skin leading to clogged pores
  • Hair products like hair sprays and conditioners may contain pore-blocking substances like silicones that led to acne
  • Tech-ne – or acne caused by using cellphones, headphones and other devices that come in contact with the skin and may carry residual oils, bacteria, etc. Sweaty clothing can also cause acne.
  • Occupational acne – If you work in areas where there is heat, such as a kitchen or boiler room. The moisture in the air may cause swelling of the hair duct leading to blockage, then inflammation, then acne.
  • Stress may cause the formation of androgens that trigger breakouts
  • Scrubbing the skin with harsh exfoliants that can pop pimples and transfer infection; also, exfoliation may severely damage already inflamed skin
  • Genetic history – if your family is prone to acneic skin, it is quite likely that your skin may be acne-prone
  • Hot and humid climate – due to the environmental moisture there is swelling and ductal blockages which starts the inflammatory phase of acne

Ayurveda and Acne

Acne vulgaris is called Yauvan Pidika in Ayurveda. ‘Yauvan’ meaning youth and ‘pidika’ means an eruption of the skin. This is only logical as the condition is usually faced by adolescent teenagers as mentioned before. Other Ayurvedic names for acne are Tarunya pidika, Mukha dooshika (that which harms facial beauty), Padmini kantaka (owing to the thorn-like nature of pimples), etc.

Causes of Acne according to Ayurveda
Ayurveda treats yauvan pidika as a disorder that is due to an internal constitutional imbalance. As it is not infectious or contagious in nature, it is not considered to be caused by microorganisms. The cause is attributed to the general constitution of the person.
The Ayurvedic cause of acne or yauvan pidika is aggravated Vata and Kapha doshas. The Pitta dosha might also cause acne when it starts to circulate and accumulates there. Tis causes the capillaries to become inflamed. This is why people who have acidic sweat or too much Pitta under the skin have a higher tendency for acne.
Another possible cause is the increase of rakta (blood) and mamsa (muscle) dhatus.
As Ayurveda believes that yauvan pidika is a disease caused by internal factors, let’s take a look at the factors.

  1. An improper diet is the primary cause of yauvan pidika. It is fairly common in those who suffer from constipation (anah) and indigestion (ajirna). Similarly, those who prefer spicy, sugary or oily food tend to get acne.
  2. Faulty eating habits can also cause yauvan pidika. Most notably some of these faulty eating habits are:
    Adhyashana – Eating at short intervals, due to which the food previously consumed isn’t fully digested.
    Viruddhashana – Consuming incompatible foods such as fruit and milk, meat and milk, etc.
    Vishamashana – Eating with disregard for the body’s wants and needs, such as taking food when not hungry or fasting when hungry
  3. Deficiency of Vitamin A (retinol) can be the cause of yauvan pidika
  4. Women with menstrual problems such as irregular menses can suffer from yauvan pidika. While acne is quite common in all women, the problem is exacerbated in those whose periods are delayed.
  5. Irregular sleeping habits which disrupts the body’s natural rhythms and causes metabolic imbalance leading to toxin overload and acne.
  6. Overuse of cosmetics which can impact the health of facial skin
  7. Excessive intake of non-vegetarian food

According to modern science, a few causes have been added:

  • Genetics
  • Medications containing corticosteroids and androgens
  • Overproduction of the skin’s natural oils (sebum)
  • Bacterial infection
  • Irregular shedding of dead skin cells which irritate the hair follicles of the skin

Ayurvedic Remedies for Acne

Herbs
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Verum): Cinnamon or dalchini is one the most powerful natural remedies for pimples. Mix cinnamon powder with honey and spot apply. Leave overnight to get clear skin. Apart from this topical mask, cinnamon also helps treat acne from the inside out when consumed. This is because this spice lowers blood sugar and insulin levels which helps keep your pores unblocked and therefore, results in less acne.
  • Turmeric (Curcurma Longa): Haldi or turmeric is the bedrock of natural acne remedies. This spice is the mainstay of Indian cooking due to its high anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and digestive powers. It can cure acne caused to digestive issues when consumed in food. Turmeric can also be used as a topical mask made by mixing turmeric and sandalwood in 1:2 proportion. Leave this mask on till it dries and wash off. This mask is also excellent for the natural treatment of acne scars. Combine brahmi and turmeric in equal amounts, add 1 tsp of warm cow milk and ½ tsp of ghee and take twice daily for curing acne.
  • Neem (Azadirachta Indica): Neem or margosa is a holistic cure for acne due to its antibacterial and astringent properties. One can use neem leaves and neem berries in various dishes as the herb also acts as a natural blood cleanser. Massage acne with neem oil regularly after washing the area with neem soap. Add a few drops of neem oil or combine neem leaf paste into fresh aloe vera gel and apply as an acne-healing face mask.
  • Giloy (Tinospora Cordifolia): Guduchi or giloy is a natural treatment for acne owing to the fact that it acts as a detoxifying agent, immunity booster and stress reliever. One can consume 30-50 ml of giloy juice on a daily basis for maximum benefits. Giloy juice can be teamed with other healing herbal juices like amla and tulsi for an added boost. Make an acne treatment with 1/4 tsp of guduchi, 1/8 tsp of neem and 1/8 tsp of turmeric. Leave on till the mask dries and wash off. Do this at least thrice weekly to benefit from the goodness of the herbs.
  • Shalmali (Bombax Malabaricum): Silk cotton tree or shalmali is one of the best home remedies for acne. To make this acne remedy, make the paste of the thorns that grow on the bark of the stem. This paste used as a spot application mask for acne can cure breakouts.
  • Kustha (Saussurea Lappa): Costus or Kustha is one of the best herbs for acne. The root and leaves are extremely helpful in clearing up the skin. Costus is also very helpful in other skin-related issues like eczema.
  • Lodhra (Symplocos Racemosa): Lodhra bark is one of the top herbal remedies for acne as it is a hormone-balancing herb. Mix lodhra, dhaniya (Coriandrum sativum) and vacha (Acorus calamus) in equal quantities. Make a smooth paste and apply on to pimples. This is also a very useful all-natural remedy for acne, boils and bruises.
  • Manjistha (Rubia Cordifolia): Manjistha or Indian madder is very beneficial for soothing and treating skin conditions such as acne as it helps detoxify the blood. Mix manjistha with honey, neem, turmeric, etc. to make a therapeutic mask for acne rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo and dermatitis.
  • Chandan (Santalum Album): One can use red or white sandalwood for acne. Sandalwood paste made with rosewater can be an extremely effective mask for treating acne problems in oily skin. One can also mix in a pinch of camphor to enhance the cooling, astringent effect. The oil of this sweet-smelling wood is also used as a massage oil to erase acne scars. Dilute 3 drops of sandalwood oil + 3 drops of rosehip seed oil with 10 drops of golden jojoba oil and apply on affected areas.
  • Vacha (Acorus Calamus): Vacha or Sweet flag is useful for balancing Kapha and supports the digestive system. It also finds its application as a stress relief remedy in Ayurveda. Mix vacha, manjistha and turmeric into a paste with rosewater. This is an excellent skin detox mask for acne.
  • Sariva (Hemidesmus Indicus): Sariva (Anantamool) or Indian Sarsaparilla is a detoxifying herb which can be great for acne and acne scars. Make a paste and apply on acne spots and leave on for 20 minutes. This mask reduces dark spots and pigmentation. One can also boil the roots to prepare a sweet herbal tea that tastes great and is refreshing for the body and mind.
Ayurvedic Supplements (to be taken under physician’s guidance – Consult Now)                Mahamanjisthadyarishta

               Mahamanjisthadi Kadha

               Panchtikta Ghrit Guggulu

               Kaishore Guggulu

               Rakta Shodhak Bati

               Triphala Churna

               Kamdudha Ras

               Gandhak Rasayan

               Chandraprabha Bati

               Shankh Bhasma

               Arogyavardhini Bati

               Khadirarista

               Sarivadyasava

               Chandanasava

               Usheerasava

               Neem Guard Soap

               Surakta Syrup

               Neem Guard Capsule

Diet
  • Avoid excess meat, sugar, tea or coffee, condiments, pickles, soft drinks, candies, ice cream, refined and processed foods.
  • Have lots of lemon juice, coriander soup, mint juice & water.
  • Go for a fat-less diet with plenty of green salads and fruits.
  • Avoid dairy as the animal hormones in milk might set off cystic acne.
  • Foods containing urad dal like idli and dosa must be minimized.
Lifestyle
  • Wash your face with lukewarm water, with a neem-based soap twice a day.
  • Try to meditate and stay stress-free as far as possible.
  • Maintain regular timings for food and sleep.
  • Do not scratch or squeeze to avoid scars.
Yoga
  • Lion Pose (Sinhasana)
  • Pranayama (Breathing Meditation)
  • Hidden Lotus Pose (Gupta Padmasana)
  • Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
  • Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana)
  • Rabbit Pose (Shashankasana)