Written and Reviewed By :
Vd. Lakshmi Lakshmanan, Ayurveda Physician,
Chakrapani Ayurveda Center, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.
What is Acne?
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when the glands secreting oil in our skin, are clogged and become inflamed or infected. The condition is not alarming and harmful but can leave scars on the skin. Our skin has pores (tiny holes) that connect to oil glands located under the skin through pores via follicles (small canals). Sebum, an oily liquid, is produced by these glands which carry dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of our skin. Under normal circumstances, a small hair grows through the follicle but when these follicles get blocked, pimples grow out of these follicles.
According to Ayurveda: Acne Vulgaris is explained as ‘Mukhadushika’ in Ayurveda which is described under ‘Kshudra Roga’ or Minor Ailments. Mukha means face and Dushika means vitiator. People having oily skin or Kapha Prakriti or Kapha Vikriti are more prone to Acne. Also, excess consumption of fatty food and fast food, lack of sufficient physical exercise and increased pollution in the present-day trigger Acne. Acne can reduce self-esteem and cause anxiety too; hence it cannot be ignored. Timely treatment is necessary.
Causes of Acne
Kala Swabhava (Age & Seasonal changes)
Spring, Autumn and Summer season
Excess spicy and sweet food items, heavy to digest food, oily food, dairy products, meat
Suppression of natural urges, excess sleep, too much fasting or excess exposure to the hot sun
Stress, Irritation, Anger, Mood swings
Some other Triggering Factors
Premenstrual syndrome, Hormonal imbalances.
Anxiety & Stress.
Frequent use of oil-based makeups.
Dandruff, oily scalp.
The hot and humid climate.
Intake of fatty and deep-fried food in excess.
Symptoms of Acne
Appearance of painful eruptions on the face which are thick and hard. Associated symptoms include itching, burning sensation and exudation.
Pain occurs due to vitiation of Vata Dosha, itching and exudation occur due to vitiation of Kapha Dosha whereas burning sensation occurs due to vitiation of Pitta Dosha.
Pathogenesis(The origination and development of a disease)
Due to indulgence in causative factors, Kapha and Vata Dosha get aggravated. These in turn further vitiate the Rakta Dhatu (Blood tissue), which in turn causes Medho Dhatu (Fat tissue) vitiation. Because of the vitiation of fat tissue, excess sweat is secreted which gets deposited in the hair follicles and produces obstruction in the sweat carrying channels. Vitiation of blood and sweat leads to vitiation of Pitta Dosha. When the aggravated Pitta gets localized in the blood and skin, acne formation occurs.
Thus, Ayurveda says, acne occurs because of Kapha, Vata Dosha, and Rakta Dhatu and natural state (that is adolescence). During the adolescence period, there is a manifestation of reproductive tissues (secretion of various growth hormones) as a result of which there is unctuousness on the face leading to acne formation on the face.
Ayurveda Management for Acne
Panchakarma or Cleansing Therapies mainly Virechana (Therapeutic Purgation), Raktamokshana (Bloodletting), and Nasya (Nasal cleansing) will help to remove the obstruction to the microcirculatory channels, thereby helping to restore the balance of Doshas. They help to restore the skin microbiome and prevent the colonization of harmful bacteria thereby reducing inflammation. Jaloukavacharana (Leech Application), Prachaana (Micro incision), and Siravyadha (Venesection) are some of the Para surgical methods mentioned in Ayurveda that remove the stagnated and vitiated blood thereby improving microcirculation to the tissues.
Shamana or Pacification Therapies such as Lepa (Topical use of herbal paste or gel on the face) will help to reduce oiliness, burning sensation, itching, etc. As Taila (Oils) have wound healing properties and reduces scar formation, they are effective in Acne. Lepas are generally advised for oily skin whereas Taila are recommended for dry skin as well for acne scars.
Some Recipes for Lepa
The bark of Arjuna with milk.
Shalmali spikes pounded with milk and mixed with oil.
Lodhra, Dhanyaka, Vacha, Sarshapa, Saindhava Lavana with water.
Gorochana and Maricha with water.
Jatiphala, Chandana and Maricha with water.
Manjishta with honey.
Turmeric powder with milk of Calotropis gigantica.
Mix 1 part of Tea Tree Oil with 9 parts water or coconut oil and mix it well. Apply the mixture to the acne area using a cotton swab. Repeat this 1 to 2 times per day.
Apply cinnamon powder mixed with honey on the pimples and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes. Then wash it with water.
Take nutmeg (jaiphal) and rub it on a rough and clean surface with a little amount of water till a paste is formed. Apply it to the affected area for 10-15 minutes and then wash it with water. Repeat it twice daily.
Make a paste of red lentil (masoor), turmeric (haldi), and lemon juice. Apply it to the acne for 10-15 minutes and then wash it with water.
Fresh 5 leaves of neem taken every day in the morning help in removing stubborn acne.
Apply aloe vera gel on the face at bedtime.
Apply sandalwood paste with rose water on the face twice a week.
Apply a paste of orange peel powder with honey on the face and leave it for 15 minutes or until dry, then rinse with water.
Mix yogurt with chickpea flour and apply on the face, gently rub and wash it off with water.
Dissolve 2 to 3 pinches of purified borax powder in a glass of lukewarm water and rinse face with it after shower.
Application of Triphala along with honey.
Wash face with Triphala decoction. In a glass of hot water, add 1 tsp Triphala powder and leave it overnight. The next morning, filter with a fine cloth and use to wash face.
Mix 5 gm barley flour, 3 gm sandalwood powder, 1 gm turmeric powder, and 250 mg camphor powder along with sufficient lemon juice. Apply this on the face and rinse with water after 15 to 20 minutes.
Home Remedies for Acne Scar
Apply basil paste on the face and rinse after 10 to 15 minutes.
Apply paste prepared from white sandalwood powder, 2 pinches turmeric powder, 2 pinches powdered camphor, and water.
Diet and Lifestyle to deal with Acne
Reduce intake of fatty food, deep-fried food items, cold food and drinks, spicy food, fast food, dairy products, red meat, coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, sauce, pickles, pastries, white flour, and refined sugar.
Include bitter tastes in diet such as green leafy vegetables.
Drink about 8 glasses of water daily.
Wash face with water two to three times a day.
Wipe off excess oil on the skin using facial tissue.
Avoid using oil-based creams/cosmetics on the face.
Do regular exercise and Pranayama.
Sleep only for 7 to 8 hours, avoid oversleeping, and staying awake at night.