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:
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.
- 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.
- 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
- Deficiency of Vitamin A (retinol) can be the cause of yauvan pidika
- 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.
- Irregular sleeping habits which disrupts the body’s natural rhythms and causes metabolic imbalance leading to toxin overload and acne.
- Overuse of cosmetics which can impact the health of facial skin
- Excessive intake of non-vegetarian food
According to modern science, a few causes have been added:
- 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
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