Acne is a common skin disorder characterised by rashes, usually seen in adolescence. It is commonly called as pimples. Acne vulgaris is triggered by the hormonal changes that occur in puberty. It occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells.
Acne is not only confined to face, you may get on your face, neck, chest, back and shoulders.
Acne usually begins at puberty and worsens during adolescence .
Nearly 85 percent of people develop acne at some point between ages 12 to 25. As many as 20 million teens have the condition. Acne may appear as early as age 10, and even may be found in some newborns. Some people may continue to be affected by acne after age 30.
Causes of Acne
The cause of acne is not completely understood yet by modern science.
- Hormonal cause – Androgen, a type of endocrine hormone is considered as the cause for acne.This hormone starts secreting in your body when you reach puberty. Increased androgen levels make the oil glands under your skin grow, the enlarged gland produces more oil. Excessive sebum can break down cellular walls in your pores, causing bacteria to grow.
- Bacterial infection – Bacterias like Propionibacterium acnes that live on our skin, penetrates inside the clogged pore and multiply, leading to the inflammation of the pores forming acne cyst or nodules.
Few factors, which trigger acne are:
- Hormones – Hormonal changes related to puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, etc., causes increase in sebum secretion and enlargement of sebaceous glands can worsen acne.
- Use of certain medications – Use of oral contraceptives, anti depressants and few drugs containing corticosteroids, androgens or lithium can increase the existing acne.
- Diet – Foods which are rich in carbohydrates like potatoes, potato chips, bread, pizzas, milk products like cheese, paneer.
- Genetic history – Acne also runs in family. If your parents or siblings are suffering with acne, you have more chances of getting it.
- Frequent exposure to oily substances – You may develop acne when your skin comes into contact with oil based lotions and creams or greasy cosmetics or occupational exposure to greasy surroundings.
- Constant irritation on your skin – This can be caused by repeated pressure on the skin by items like mobile phones, helmets, caps.
- Stress – This doesn’t cause acne, but if you have acne already, stress may make it worse.
- Climate – Change in climatic condition also precipitates acne. Heavy sweating and humidity may increase your acne as they attract more dust on the skin and block the pores.
- Hair products – Few oil, conditioners and shampoos may also cause acne.
Signs and Symptoms of Acne
Acne may cause following changes in your skin:
- Skin lesions – The skin lesions vary for each individual. It may be simple whiteheads or blackheads to a large lump like nodules or cysts and in between papules (small red bumps) or pustules. The content in whiteheads and blackheads are oil and dead skin cells, whereas pustules are filled with liquid pus.
- Scars – It may leave dark temporary spots or permanent pitting scars on the skin.
- Pain and itching- If the pimples are large and pus filled due to infection, it may cause throbbing pain.
- Colour change – Due to inflammation, your skin may turn red. Non-inflamed acne doesn’t cause any redness, they will make your skin rough.
Treatment for Acne
Blackheads and whiteheads are very easy to treat with simple scrubbing, whereas papules and pustules are little tougher to treat and you will definitely need medical advice.
- Oil free skin – Certain face wash containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide are given. Regular usage of this reduces bacterial growth on the skin and removes oil too. These products may cause scaling of skin, excessive dryness, redness etc.
- Antibiotics – It includes both oral antibiotics and topical antibiotics to minimise skin inflammation and to destroy acne causing bacteria. Antibiotics have there own side effects like diarrhoea, vomiting, allergic rashes, etc. Topical antibiotics may cause redness, itching and hives on the skin.
- Hormonal pills – In females, oral contraceptive may be given to reduce the intensity of acne. In few women, it may increase the existing acne and these pills have their own set of side effects like constipation, nausea, vomiting, irregular vaginal bleeding, etc.
- Alternative procedures – Laser therapy, chemical peel and dermabrasion are other procedures available for acne and scar removal. But these procedures are pretty expensive.
All these methods are only temporary solution. If you want to clear acne from the root better to adopt Ayurvedic treatments along with lifestyle changes.
In Ayurveda, acne is referred as Yuvana pidaka or Tarunya pidaka (that which occurs in adolescence). It is also called as Mukha Dushika. Aggravation of kapha, vata dosha and vitiation of rakta and medas causes yuvana pidaka.
Ayurvedic Management of Acne
Ayurvedic treatment depends on the type and intensity of your acne. If it is mild only internal medication with topical applications is sufficient, whereas if it is intense you need to undergo vamana and virechana procedures followed by nasya. These procedures detoxify the body, and regulate the hormones as well.
- Kashayam – Nimbadi kashayam, panchatiktam kashayam, Thikthakam kashayam, Mahamanjisthadi kashayam.
- Asava and arishta – Khadirarista, ushirasava, sarivadyasava and chandanasava.
- Guggulu – Amrutadi guggulu, Arogya vardhini vati, panchatikta ghrita guggulu, triphala guggulu, kaishoara guggulu.
- Mix equal quantity of katuki, guduchi and shatavari. Boil 1 tsp of powder in glass of water till water reduces to half. Drink twice a day before food.
- Prepare a herbal tea using coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and cumin seeds. Drink this tea twice or thrice a day.
- You can use any of these below mentioned powders or in combination, with milk (if your skin is very dry and dull) or rose water(if your skin is oily) as face pack- Panchanimba churna, nimbadi churna, nimbaharidradi churna or single drugs like dhanyaka, Vacha, Manjista, Lodra, Rakta chandana, Haridra, Daruharidra, Nimba, Sariva.
- The outer skin of the lemon or orange is dried and made into powder.This is mixed with little buttermilk and applied over the area of acne. Use this weekly thrice for a month. It will reduce the oiliness in your skin.
- In case of papules or pustules, where there is local skin infection, applying neem leaf paste with turmeric is very useful.
- Make a face pack using besan, turmeric, milk and few drops of lemon. Apply evenly all over your face and neck, wash it off after 15- 20 minutes. Do this weekly twice.
- If you have dandruff, do methi hair pack weekly once as dandruff increases acne. Soak required amount of methi seeds in water overnight and grind it into a fine paste using the soaked water. Apply on the scalp, leave it for half an hour and wash with shikakai.
- Apply fresh aloe vera gel with turmeric to reduce acne as well scars.
- Apply kumkumadi lepam to minimise acne scars.
- Use aloe vera gel as moisturiser and avoid other creams.
- Avoid curds, cheese and paneer.
- Reduce the frequency of coffee and tea intake.
- Avoid foods rich in carbohydrate like potatoes, maida stuffs, etc.
- Minimise the intake of urad dal items like idli and dosa.
- Avoid non vegetarian foods and deep fried oily foods.
- Avoid constipating foods like aloo, bread, burgers, pizza etc. Keep your bowels clear.
- Drink sufficient quantity of lukewarm water as per your need.
- Try to have sound sleep of minimum 7-8 hours and avoid irregular sleep pattern.
- To overcome stress, do yoga, pranayama and meditation.
Follow these steps to reduce the intensity of acne and avoid new outbreak:
- Wash your face twice daily, preferably with lukewarm water and mild cleansing face wash or besan powder.
- Use water based, non comedogenic gels or creams.
- Always use a fresh and dry towel, damp towels harbour bacteria.
- Remove make-up and wash your face before going to sleep.
- Take a quick shower after exercise and exposure to environmental pollutions.
- Reduce repeated scrubbing.
- Wash your hair on alternative days. This is especially recommended if you have oily hair or if you are exposed to more dusty environment.
- Steaming once in a week will keep your pores open.
- Don’t leave your hairs loose on your face, it will spread oil and bacteria on the skin.
- Oil your hair weekly twice and leave only for an hour, don’t leave overnight.
- Wear a cotton scarf or handkerchief inside the helmet and wash it regularly.
- Avoid squeezing or pinching the acne. It makes infection to spread deep and may leave permanent scars.
- Don’t share others’ soap and towel.
- Don’t allow any face pack to completely dry. Remove while it is still wet.
- Don’t wear tight caps, hats, or headbands for longer duration.
- Try not to touch your face.
- Reduce the skin contact of mobiles by using ear phones.
- Don’t use cosmetics or creams that contain oil. Look for the ‘oil-free’ label.
- Do not leave make-up on overnight.
- Never massage your face too much while applying moisturiser or washing your face.
Counselling is also a very important factor in management of acne. Acne may impact the psychology of adolescent children causing depression, low self confidence, social phobia, etc. Parents should encourage their children to overcome these stigma.
Flawless heart has more value than flawless skin. Stop worrying and cheer up. Aspire for a flawless image soon through Ayurveda.
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