Hey everyone! As you all know, I’m a huge fan of Ayurvedic medicine (and Ayurvedic products like Skin Apotheke) as a tool for skin care, and it’s an excellent compliment to anyone’s skin care knowledge.
Today I have a great guest post by Kristen Ma, author of Beauty Pure & Simple: The Ayurvedic Approach to Beautiful Skin. Her book is an awesome resource for Ayuverdic techniques for skin care and beauty.
Keep reading and don’t miss the bottom of the article, where I announce an awesome giveaway for 3 lucky winners.
The Three Faces of Eczema: Beauty Through Ayurveda (How to Beat Eczema & Dry Skin This Winter)
by Kristen Ma
With the winter weather approaching, our skin will get battered and beaten by the elements. This makes our complexions vulnerable to dehydration, irritation, and a variety of skin ailments. One of the most common winter-triggered beauty conditions is eczema. Unfortunately, it is one of the most misdiagnosed skin problems due to the fact that it is also very misunderstood.
From a dermatological perspective, we don’t really know what eczema is and have come to no conclusions about its real cause. Usually, a derm will send you home with a prescription for cortisone – which is a steroid that suppresses your immune response and thins your skin over time. While this will calm the condition down temporarily, it does not take a long-term approach, leaving the root cause of your eczema untreated. It is also a confusing condition because it is expressed in so many different ways. Some of us are red, some itchy, some flaky, and some have water blisters.
This is why when we look at eczema from an Ayurvedic perspective it helps us understand and find solutions for this skin aggravation. Ayurveda is an Eastern medicinal health science based on the concept of “dosha.” This ideology dictates that we are made up of three doshas, which are energies based on the elements of Air, Fire and Earth/Water. When one or more of these doshas becomes excessive within our bodies, they display themselves through disease, disorder and imbalance. So from an Ayurvedic viewpoint, what we really need to examine is which dosha is out of balance.
Vata (Dry/Air) Eczema
Vata eczema is an indication that we have an excess of air and wind within our bodies. Like air, our skin becomes dry, flaky and thin (usually shedding). This is brought on by a lack of oil in the skin as well as water in the body. Most of us experience Vata eczema in the heart of winter, when we find it most difficult to rehydrate and need nourishment.
This calls for internal and external replenishment. Our skin needs comfort and protection from heavy vegetable oils and rich salves. Internally, taking omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial (flax seed capsules help tremendously – Note from Steph: while flax seed is helpful and contains plenty of ALA, it does not contain suitable amounts of EPA or DHA, and in that regard, fish oil is superior) as well as avoiding dry foods like dense meats, breads, crackers and dried fruits. Increasing soups, stews, and water-rich veggies will not only help with moisture but also aid constipation, which also contributes to Vata eczema.
Pitta (Inflamed/Fire) Eczema
Pitta eczema is aggravated by the fire dosha, and it flares up from an excess of this heat energy, prompting redness that is often accompanied by a burning sensation. This type of eczema also needs hydration, but not oil. Actually oil must be strictly avoided. I have broken out with Pitta eczema and applied oil to it, only to be greeted by raised welts the next day. Similar to fry cooking, oil enables the increase of heat and this inflamed eczema needs calming and cooling. Aloe vera gel, plant milks, and chamomile water is best. Internally, it is important to examine your digestion and acidity. Pitta governs digestive fire, and when your digestion is poor and overworked it can express itself as Pitta eczema. Also, avoiding acid-forming foods is very important. Acid is another form of Pitta and those of us who are naturally prone to high Pitta and inflammation are also predisposed to hyperacidity. One of my favorite ways to mitigate this is by taking turmeric capsules. Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, and I have prescribed it to those who have Pitta-Kapha eczema, who can consume it orally along with dusting turmeric powder right to the affected area.
Kapha (Wet/Earth and Water) Eczema
Kapha eczema is also known as wet eczema. Kapha, the earth and water element, is the dosha that prompts water retention, excess oil, and lethargy. It is heavy, moist, and dense (similar to earth). Kapha eczema usually occurs during the season’s change, especially when we move into a wetter season. This can appear in the form of a shiny, wet appearance or through water blisters. What really marks a Kapha influence is the presence of itchiness.
Traditional Ayurvedic medicine actually uses live leeches to suck the heated dampness from the body. *Shiver.* But if you’re like most people who don’t have leeches laying around the house, I suggest keeping the area disinfected. Natural anti-bacterial ingredients like witch hazel and peppermint water will soothe and sterilize the area without over-drying. Kapha eczema should avoid oil – but this should only be done when there is an eczema outbreak. When the outbreak calms down, keeping the skin moist will support its barrier function.
Internally, turmeric is excellent for its antibacterial properties. But what is even more important is to eat a diet that decreases dampness. Following a Candida-reducing diet – avoiding sugars, fermented foods, dairy and yeast – easily accomplishes this. Acidophilus capsules also gently help fight bad bacteria within our bodies. But while I am advocating fighting dampness, this does not mean avoiding water and hydration. Dampness refers to turbid water, which is full of toxins, while fresh water and hydration will help cleanse our systems as well as on a cellular level.
So while it is sometimes difficult keep your skin resilient during such drastic weather, don’t let eczema get you down. When you are more methodical and holistic about its treatment, your skin, body, and spirit have no choice but to balance themselves out.
Enter to win a copy of Kristen’s new book, Beauty Pure & Simple: The Ayurvedic Approach to Beautiful Skin. There will be 3 winners.
HOW TO ENTER
1. Go to the Epic Beauty Guide Facebook Page.
2. Hit “Like.”
3. Leave a comment on the EBG Facebook Page about anything you like – a skin care tip, an idea or suggestion for a new article, a question, whatever floats your boat.
Three (3) winners will be chosen and announced on the Epic Beauty Guide Facebook Page on November 9th. Good luck!