My trauma of adolescent acne was a struggle during those awkward, uncomfortable years with my face, only resulted in frustration as topical creams failed to have an impact. It felt like symptoms were being targeted on a superficial level rather than the underlying cause being sought after. My skin remained riddled with pimples—angry, red, raw and very nasty/unclean.Acne during our teenage years can largely be attributed to fluctuations in hormone levels that activate the oil glands in our skin. ACNE VULGARIS CONDITION! Usually, dead skin cells are shed, but the excess sebum binds the cells together and they get stuck, block the skin’s pores, and bacteria develops—the perfect conditions for a pimple.Traditional treatments are focused on preventing bacterial overgrowth, regulating oil production, and managing hormone fluctuations. In adults, it’s thought that hormone imbalances, stress, or aggressive products that irritate the skin are predominantly responsible for our erupting epidermisAyurveda is the traditional healing system in India, in this process, there is the connection between acne, impaired digestion, and a build-up of toxicity in the body. In Ayurveda everything in existence is made up of the five elements: fire, water, earth, air and space, and these elements together form “doshas” or “type” that influences our physical attributes and mental characteristics.In Ayurveda, each dosha governs a different portion of the skin:
Vata governs the top third – the forehead and the temples.
Forehead acne aggravated by Vata excess tends to present itself as tiny milia, or as blackheads. In general, the skin feels congested and bumpy, but the acne tends to be small and dry, not deep or pus-filled.Forehead acne points to a Vata imbalance and two very common culprits are dehydration (too much air and dryness) and constipation (lack of movement and too much dryness). Vata acne is also a common sign of stress, scatteredness, overwhelm or worry. Vata acne is usually not caused by oil as you would expect, but from the opposite: systemic dehydration.Dehydration is combatted in two ways – obviously, you should increase your water and fluid intake, as well as add vegetables and foods rich in fluid (especially soups) to the diet. Decrease dehydrating foods such as alcohol, coffee, soda, and salt. The other thing you should do is add lots of healthy fats. Healthy fats include Omega 3s, like fatty fish, flax, chia, avocado, grass-fed ghee, hemp seed, and olive oils.If you are still constipated (eliminating LESS than 2x per day), add more water, more FIBER, and consider taking a teaspoon or two of castor oil at night on an empty stomach before bed.
Picture credit: ayurveda medicare
Pitta governs the middle third – the cheeks and the nose.
Cheek and nose acne tends to be red, inflamed and painful. It may also appear as milia surrounding the eye. Or cluster around the nose and top lip.The liver, the blood, and the stomach and small intestine are all governed by Pitta, and it is a good bet that if you are breaking out on your cheeks and nose, you are also breaking out in other places as well.Topically, we must be more gentle with this type of acne than any other. Soothing and lightly moisturizing are key. No exfoliation or drying of any sort. Anti-inflammatory botanical gels and lightweight serums. No super active ingredients.Internally, we must support both the liver and the digestion. There are many great liver supplements. I personally love Milk Thistle is popular as well. Eating cooling and healing foods is important. Ideally drinking aloe vera juice and grass fed bone broth daily is recommended.Acne on the cheeks, especially if it is rash like and has been diagnosed as acne eczema is also likely caused by food intolerance or insensitivity. Same goes for acne around the nose and upper lip. Take an objective look at your diet. ANYTHING could be the culprit. Are there any foods you eat very consistently and feel like you could not live without? These might be the very thing that is aggravating your digestion and causing your acne!To purify the blood, the liver must be in good health, so take care of that first. Make sure you are eliminating regularly, and drinking lots of water, eating lots of good fats and lots of fiber. Ground flax seed gives you both fiber and good fats and is great to sneak in whenever possible. Same with chia seeds.Taking a super-green supplement like Spirulina or Chlorella is also a good idea. Staying away from greasy, spicy, salty, processed foods and eating smaller, blander meals is recommended. Milia around the eye is an indicator of adrenal fatigue and an under-active thyroid. REST and DESTRESS are your best bets here.
Kapha governs the bottom third – from the base of the ears and top of the lip down to the jaw and neck.
Lower cheek, chin and jaw acne tends to be deep, large, cystic, fluid-filled, painful and slow to resolve, reflecting the slow, fluid, heavy qualities of Kapha. Even blackheads in this area tend to be “meatier” and more oily than those in the other section of our face. Fertility is governed by Kapha, which is why a lot of times cystic breakouts along the jaw, chin and lower cheeks can be traced to a hormonal imbalance or a health issue such as PCOS.A diet rich in Kapha-aggravating foods may also be the culprit. Kapha foods have heavy, sticky qualities to them, and include all sugars and flours, all creamy and damp foods including and especially dairy. Surprisingly Kapha aggravating foods also include yeasts and fermented foods including wine, vinegar (even Kombucha!). Soy, shellfish, fruits (bananas especially) also aggravate Kapha! Diets rich in Kapha foods can cause candida and candida overgrowth should also be considered a prime suspect in the cystic chin and jaw acne.Another clear indication of Kapha-aggravating diet being the culprit is pus-filled lower cheek breakouts. Definitely eliminate or reduce dairy, sugar, wheat, carbs, and thick, creamy, damp foods here. You may also need to INCREASE bitter, astringent tastes, so taking a super greens supplement is something to consider. Kapha also governs the lymphatic system. A big key to keeping the Earth and Water of Kapha in equilibrium, or balance, is motion. A beautiful metaphor is thinking of mixing earth and water. If they go unstirred, the heavy sand sinks to the bottom and the water rises to the top. It is the constant stirring action that brings balance to this dosha. Our lymphatic fluid will quickly stagnate if we do not move. Unlike our blood, the lymph fluid is not pumped through the body – the only things that move it are exercise and gravity. So even though Kaphas may not like it, if you are getting cystic pimples towards the back of the jaw, base of the ears especially (where two large lymph nodes are located) exercise and movement is a must.As always :*Love & LightNafsi Botanical