Know Ayurvedic Approach To Body Acne And Herbal Remedies
Having acne on our face or any part of our body can be a very discomforting feeling. Not only can it lead to painful and inflamed skin, make the skin sensitive and leave scars on the skin, but it can also cause emotional distress. Therefore, it is important to understand body acne and address it. Treating acne early with the help of Ayurvedic wisdom can help alleviate physical discomfort, reduce the risk of scarring, and help improve the self-esteem and confidence of people and maintain healthy skin.
What is acne?
The skin has small holes called pores that usually get clogged by oil, bacteria, dead skin cells, and dirt. When this happens, our skin may develop a pimple. While some people may experience acne rarely, some experience them frequently. So, if you get multiple pimples or get them frequently, you may have acne. Research estimates that 9.4 percent1 of people worldwide have acne. The most common form of acne is acne vulgaris, which usually appears on the face, chest, and back. Symptoms of acne include blackheads, whiteheads, comedones, erythematic papules and pustules, nodules, and cysts2 that can be painful and may leave scars. Acne is most common during adolescence but can also affect adults of all ages.
Body acne, or bacne3, is a common skin condition when hair follicles become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. This can lead to the formation of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts on the back, chest, shoulders, and other areas of the body. Various factors, including hormonal changes, genetics, sweat, and certain medications, can cause body acne. Even though it is more common in teenagers and young adults but can occur at any age.
Following mentioned are a few acne-triggers:
Excess oil production: When our body produces excess oil, it can clog the pores and lead to acne.
Dead skin cells: As we know, our skin sheds dead skin cells at regular intervals. If these dead skin cells get mixed with the excess oil, it may clog our pores.
Bacteria: A specific type of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes is naturally present on the skin and may lead to the development of acne when it proliferates.
Hormonal changes: On some occasions, fluctuations in hormone levels can increase the production of oil and contribute to the development of acne.
In some cases, medications, a high-glycemic diet, and genetic factors may contribute to acne development.
Ayurveda views acne as a manifestation of an imbalance in the body. This condition resembles Yauvanapidika (acne). According to Ayurveda, acne is caused by an accumulation of toxins (ama) in the body, which can clog the skin pores, leading to inflammation and developing pimples. Ayurveda considers acne to result from an imbalance in the body's doshas and is primarily caused by the aggravation of Kapha and Pitta dosha and rakta dhatu (blood tissue)4, which is associated with heat and inflammation.
When Pitta dosha is imbalanced, it can cause excess oil production, inflammation, and the accumulation of toxins (ama) in the body, leading to the development of acne. Since an imbalance of Pitta, Kapha, and rakta can aggravate the development of acne, a formulation that can help purify the blood and check disturbed Kapha and Pitta can prove to be beneficial.
READ MORE: Ayurvedic secrets to a Clear, Acne-Free Skin
Turmeric: Turmeric is a well-known Ayurvedic herb with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is believed to help reduce inflammation associated with acne5 and prevent new acne lesions, improving collagen synthesis. Additionally, turmeric being antiseptic and antibacterial in nature may help skin cells from clogging and clumping. Thus, combining these properties and turmeric’s anti-inflammatory nature can help soothe acne and promote quicker healing.
READ MORE: What are the Benefits of Turmeric for Acne-Prone Skin
Indian Madder or Manjistha: Manjistha is an Ayurvedic herb believed to help purify the blood and remove toxins from the body. It is often used in Ayurveda to treat skin conditions such as acne6 and is believed to help reduce inflammation and promote healthy skin. One of the many ways to use manjistha is by applying a mixture of manjistha powder with honey/rose water to help soothe acne by controlling the growth of acne-causing bacteria due to its antioxidant property.
Aloe vera: An aggravated Pitta can cause red bumps and inflammation. The ropan (healing) and sita (cold) properties of aloe vera can balance aggravated Pitta, reduce inflammation, and help control acne. Aloe vera is a soothing herb commonly used in Ayurveda to soothe and calm skin conditions such as acne. It is believed to help reduce inflammation. Aloe vera also possesses hydrating properties7 and helps in moisturizing the skin, which can also be useful in reducing the appearance of acne scars.
Neem: Neem has ruksha (dry), kashaya (astringent), sita (cold), and tikta (bitter) properties. Neem is a powerful antibacterial8 and anti-inflammatory herb commonly used in Ayurveda to treat skin conditions like acne. It is believed to help reduce inflammation, and redness, prevent acne-causing bacteria growth, purify the blood, and reduce toxin levels that lower the risk of skin problems like acne9.
Sandalwood oil: Acne is a condition that generally occurs due to an imbalance of Pitta and Kapha dosha and leads to bumps or swelling in the affected area. Sandalwood is a cooling herb believed to help reduce inflammation and redness associated with acne. It’s oil is often used to soothe and calm irritated skin10.
READ MORE: How To Get Rid Of Face Blemishes The Ayurveda Way
Ayurveda offers holistic techniques for treating acne that involves herbal remedies, dietary and lifestyle changes, etc. Here are some common suggestions based on Ayurvedic wisdom that can help deal with acne:
- Ayurveda recommends a diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc., that is cooling and calming. Certain dietary factors, including salty and spicy foods, may have the potential to influence acne development. High salt intake can lead to water retention and bloating, potentially contributing to inflammation. Similarly, spicy food can increase facial temperature and may aggravate inflammation. Therefore, there is an emphasis on avoiding salty, spicy, oily, and fried food11.
- Massaging the skin with warm herbal oils can help remove toxins, promote healthy circulation, and reduce acne's severity.
- According to Ayurveda, acne is caused by an imbalance of the doshas, particularly the Pitta dosha. To soothe acne based on your dosha, you can use the following Ayurvedic oils:
For Vata Dosha:
Coconut oil is a good choice for those with a Vata imbalance as it has moisturizing and nourishing properties. Moreover, coconut oil contains medium-chain type fatty acids such as lauric acid, which may help kill harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses in the body. In a study, lauric acid has shown great potential in helping reduce the bacteria that cause acne and inflammation associated with it12.
For Pitta Dosha:
Neem oil13 is also effective for Pitta types due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
For Kapha Dosha:
Sesame oil14 is recommended for those with Kapha dosha as it has a light texture and warming properties that help to balance excess Kapha.
- Ayurveda recognizes that stress can contribute to acne and recommends yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises to reduce stress levels.
In addition to these, Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting enough sleep, regular exercise, and avoiding excessive alcohol, processed food, etc.
Even though acne is not a fatal condition, it is not a skin condition that should be ignored. It’s not always possible to prevent acne entirely, but we can take specific steps to help lower our chances of getting body acne. These include appropriate herbal remedies, therapies, dietary changes, better lifestyle choices, etc. Overall, treating and preventing acne is important not only for physical health but also for emotional well-being and long-term skin health.
- Champion RH. Burns DA. Disorders of the Sebaceous Glands. In: Burton JL, editor; Textbook of Dermatology. 6th ed. UK: Blackwell Science Ltd; 1998. p. 17.71
- 9th ed. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientalia; 2007. Sushruta, Sushruta Samhita, Nidana sthana 13/39, Edited by Vaidya. Yadavji Trikamji Acharya.
- Chularojanamontri L, Tuchinda P, Kulthanan K, et al. Moisturizers for acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol.2014;7(5):36–44.
- Yadav N, Singh A, Chatterjee A, et al.Evaluation of efficacy and safety of perfect face gel and perfact face tablets in management of acne.J Clin Exp Dermatol Res.2011;2(2)
- Verma D, Yadav RK, Rani B, et al.Multipurpose Neem (Azadirachta indica) for beguiling cures.IAAST.2017;8(3):96-101.