Ayurvedic Skin Types
From the Ayurvedic point of view, the activities in the human system are controlled by the three biohumors called “doshas” – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Any disturbances in one or all of them can cause disease. The skin is also classified according to these biohumors.
Vata skin is generally dry, thin, cool to the touch, easily dehydrated, and is very vulnerable to the influence of dry windy weather.
Pitta is mostly the Fire element, so the Pitta skin type tends to have more breakouts, photosensitivity, and less tolerance to hot food and fieriness in temperament. Pitta skin looks ruddy and is warm to the touch. Pitta skin types tend to be more prone to freckles and moles than the other skin types.
Kapha dosha is predominantly Water and Earth, so Kapha skin tends to have these qualities – it can be greasy, thick and more tolerant of the sun.
Causes of Skin Allergy
Skin allergy is the body’s extreme reaction to one or more allergens. There are thousands of different allergens all around us and almost any substance in our environment can provoke an allergic reaction in someone (who is very sensitive). We can say that this type of reaction is caused unsuitable or Asaatmya influences.
Similarly, there may be cases of seasonal or acquired skin sensitivities that is caused due to a reactive type toxin called Amavisha. This is the more dangerous counterpart of the toxin Ama, which is usually created due to faulty digestion. If Ama is left to continue to accumulate in the digestive tract, it can spread to other tissues (dhatus) and organs and wreak havoc.
Eventually, the Ama interacts with the organs, tissues and functions of the body (subdoshas) where if not flushed out, it settles and forms a reactive poison called Amavisha. When an Asaatmya influence or allergen interacts with the Amavisha it can impair cell functioning and may manifest as rashes, discoloration, roughness or irritation.
Here are some of the common allergens that can act as triggers of skin allergies.
- Nickel (nickel sulfate hexahydrate): A metal usually in jewelry and clasps or buttons on clothing.
- Gold (gold sodium thiosulfate): A precious metal used to create jewelry.
- Balsam of Peru (myroxylon pereirae): A tree resin that is used as a fragrance in perfumes and skin lotions.
- Thimerosal: A mercury compound used in antiseptics and as a preservative in some vaccines.
- Neomycin sulfate: A topical antibiotic, also found in cosmetics, deodorant, soap and pet food.
- Fragrances: Artificial scents found in foods, cosmetics, antiseptics, soaps, perfumes and dental products.
- Formaldehyde: A popular preservative.
- Cobalt chloride: Metal used in cobalt blue pigment and many other products like hair dye, antiperspirant, etc.
- Bacitracin: A topical antibiotic.
- Quaternium 15: A preservative usually found in cosmetic products or in industrial products such as polishes, paints and waxes.
Additional allergens that could be causing allergies might be:
- Household cleaners
- Clothing (rough fabric like wool that gathers allergy-causing dust, plant material, etc.)
- Heat (it can aggravate skin problems like redness chafing or sweating)
- Latex (component of gloves, underwear straps and waistbands; people allergic to latex may also cross react to certain tropical fruits such as bananas)
- Plants (certain plants can cause skin irritation)
- Food (food allergies, handling spices and certain other foods)
- Sunscreen (PABA-based chemicals)
Types of Skin Allergy
There are four main types of skin allergy, each caused by different allergens. Fortunately, there are many ways to relieve the symptoms. But in order to choose an appropriate treatment, it’s important to identify which type of allergy you have.
Dermatitis (Twak shoth)
The Greek word ‘dermatitis’ means ‘inflammation of skin,’ it is caused by touching a certain substance. In most cases, the main symptom is a red rash, but it could be one of a number of allergens that causes it including metals, chemicals, rubber, plants and even pets.
According to Charaka Samhita, eczema is a condition where the skin erupts into angry red rashes and bumps, along with profuse discharge, extreme itching and often blue discoloration.
Prickly heat (Pittaja masoorika)
Warm weather often causes the itchy red rash known as prickly heat. The exact reason is not known till date, but some people think it’s due to sweat getting trapped under the skin.
Bites and stings (Keet dansh)
Irritation from insect bites and stings can be uncomfortable but reactions tend to be short-lived.
This type of allergy is often called nettle rash, because it comes up as an itchy red rash, raised in the middle. Confusingly, it has nothing to do with stinging nettles at all but is caused by eating a certain food, worms, infections or taking a particular drug.
Fungal infections (Dadru)
Fungal infections are usually due to yeast (such as Candida or Malassezia furfur) or dermatophytes such as Epidermophyton, Microsporum and Trichophyton. Fungi usually take up residence in moist areas of the body where skin surfaces meet like between the toes, in the genital area and under the breasts. These infections only affect the topmost layer of the epidermis and do not penetrate deeper. If you suffer from recurrent fungal infections, please get tested for diabetes and/or HIV.
While blistering is most commonly known to occur when the skin is burnt, blisters can also result in skin conditions that are caused or worsened by allergens. For example, sufferers of eczema and contact dermatitis may experience skin blisters as one of the symptoms.
Pruritus or itching is treated more as a symptom, precursor to a disease (purvarupa), complication (upadrava) or a symptom reflecting an incorrect prognosis (asadhya lakshana) of other systemic diseases. Thus, pruritus is likely to go away if the root problem is treated and cured.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Skin Allergy
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