Do you often notice dry, itchy, and flaky skin despite constantly using moisturizers? Dry skin is a common condition some experience frequently, while others suffer from it seasonally. Among the most difficult skincare problems to treat, dry skin or "Twak Rukshta" is considered to have deep-rooted causes as per the 5000-year-old science of Ayurveda.
In this article, let's explore the characteristics of dry skin, potential causes, and some Ayurvedic remedies and herbs that can help manage this condition.
Understanding Dry Skin
Scientifically speaking, sebum (a mixture of fatty acids, waxes, and sugars that protects the skin against water evaporation) secreted from the sebaceous glands keeps the skin supple and moisturized. Skin that has naturally lower sebum levels tends to feel drier than usual. Sometimes, external conditions such as weather changes, taking hot showers, premature aging, and the use of harsh soaps can also damage the skin barrier, causing the skin to become patchy and dry.
According to Ayurveda, Twak Rukshta or dry skin is a Kshudra Kushta or a minor skin ailment. The tridosha energies that govern our life—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—directly influence our well-being. Any perturbation in Vata or Pitta may result in increased body heat, leading to skin dryness.
Consequences of an Aggravated Vata
Governed by Vaayu (air) and Akash (ether), the Vata dosha is responsible for several diseases that affect us. When Vata is vitiated, it impairs blood circulation, which leads to the drying of the arteries. Excessive Vata also affects your hair, skin, and nails. Cracked heels that do not soften with moisturization and chronic dryness of the skin and hair are all results of an aggravated Vata. The effect of Rutus or seasons: In the winter and fall, Vaayu and Akash are the predominant elements that lead to an aggravated Vata.
READ MORE: Vata Diet: Everything You Need To Know
Consequences of an Aggravated Pitta
Governed by Agni (fire) and Jala (water), the Pitta dosha influences issues related to digestion and metabolism. It is known to be the hottest and oiliest dosha in the body. If Pitta is the predominant dosha in you, your body will be less tolerant to oily and spicy food. An aggravated Pitta can lead to inflammation, acne, rashes, sensitivity, sunburn, sunspots, and rosaceous skin.
The effect of Rutus or seasons: In the summer season, Agni and Jala are the predominant elements that lead to an aggravated Pitta.
READ MORE: Pitta Diet: Everything You Need To Know
Consequences of an Aggravated Kapha
Governed by Prithvi (earth) and Jala (water), the Kapha dosha is responsible for the material development of different types of tissues. Since an aggravated Kapha results in oily, thick, and dull-looking skin with large pores and cystic acne, it does not generally lead to dry skin in individuals. The effect of Rutus or seasons: In the spring season, Prithvi and Jala are the predominant elements that lead to an aggravated Kapha.
READ MORE: Kapha Diet: Everything You Need To Know
Signs To Look Out For
To prevent excessive drying of the skin, here are some of the key signs you must look out for:
- Dehydrated and flaky skin
- Itchiness and dryness of the skin
- Burning sensation
- Recurring inflammation and redness
- Skin peeling
- Cracked skin that bleeds
Aggravating Factors of Dry Skin
From basic Ayurvedic principles, you can understand that dryness corresponds to a general lack of hydration or Jala. But on the flip side, dry skin results from an excess of ether or air. Some of the possible causes of dry skin are:
- Sudden Change in Weather: A shift in temperature can cause the drying of the skin, imparting a flaky and rough appearance to it. Cold weather tends to strip the skin of sebum or essential oils that help boost and retain moisture. Excessive heat or a humid temperature also results in dry skin.
- Using Harsh Soaps: A number of soaps, body washes, and shampoos strip the skin and scalp of moisture. These contain sulfates that rid the skin of its natural oils, which are necessary for the skin to remain hydrated.
- Medical Conditions: Skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema can make your skin more prone to dryness and damage. Studies have revealed that medical conditions such as diabetes, malnutrition, kidney ailments, and hypothyroidism can result in dry skin.
- Premature Aging: As you get older, your skin begins to age and secretes lesser oil, which causes drying. Additional factors such as hormonal imbalance, menopause, and high cortisol levels may cause premature drying of the skin.
Ayurvedic Herbs for Dry Skin
Ayurveda recommends multiple wonder herbs that help soothe dry skin. Some of them are:
- Ghrit Kumari or Aloe Vera
Packed with antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera can help soothe tight and dry skin when applied regularly. The extract helps boost the production of collagen, imparting elasticity to the skin.
READ MORE: Ayurveda's Take On 'The Plant Of Immortality', Aloe vera
Known to be lubricating, sandalwood has a cooling effect and is loaded with clarifying properties. When used in a face pack or as an oil, it can nourish the skin, improve imbalances, and promote good sleep.
- Ashwagandha or Indian Ginseng
A Rasayana herb, Ashwagandha contains antioxidants that help control collagen depletion. With potent anti-inflammatory properties, it is rich in bio-actives such as withanolides, saponins, and alkaloids, which help moisturize dry skin. It can be consumed in the form of a tablet or applied as moisturizers and lotions.
- Guduchi or Tinospora cordifolia
A powerful Ayurvedic herb, Guduchi helps balance both Vata and Pitta doshas. Packed with antioxidants that help maintain moisture in the body and promote lustrous skin, it also has cooling properties.
Ayurvedic Practices to Combat Dry Skin
To protect the skin from dryness, the first step is to change your Ahara (food habits) and Vihara (lifestyles and habits), which also includes your Dincharya (daily routine), and Rutucharya (seasonal routine). Some tips you can keep in mind are:
Rework Your Ahara
A well-balanced and nourishing diet can help work wonders for your skin. A diet that can help hydrate your skin includes:
- Fresh fruits: Include enough fresh fruits in your daily diet. Sweet and juicy fruits make the best snacks and are essential in a clean and hydrating regime. Include fruits such as cucumbers, watermelons, and radishes.
- Increase the intake of vegetables: While vegetables are hydrating, consuming them raw can dampen the Agni or digestive fire. Vegetables cooked in a nice hot broth can be the perfect addition to your winter lunches or dinners because it helps regulate the Vayu (air) element. Ensure that you are following a Ritucharya (season-specific) diet.
- Healthy oils and fats: Using natural oils such as coconut, avocado, or olive to cook can give your internal organs a much-needed boost. Consuming a handful of walnuts, almonds, cashews, or sunflower seeds can give you antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which work wonders for your skin.
- Drink plenty of fluids: This is the easiest tip to follow but is often the hardest to implement. Increasing the intake of water, coconut water, herbal teas, and aloe vera juice can greatly improve your skin health and help restore the moisture balance in the skin. Drinking lukewarm water throughout the day prevents dehydration and helps balance the doshas.
Adapt your Vihara
Some key factors that can help you change your vihara or lifestyle are:
- Practice abhyanga (self-massage): Abhyanga or oiling one’s body can help balance the tridoshic elements, increase circulation, improve skin tone, and counter the effects of aging.If you have a predominant Vata dosha, you need heavy oils such as ylang-ylang, coconut, sandalwood, or sesame.If you have a predominant Pitta dosha, you need gentle oils such as sunflower seed, hibiscus, or olive oil.If you have a predominant Kapha dosha, you need lighter and warmer oils such as grapeseed, castor, or safflower.
- Get adequate rest: Disturbed sleep can aggravate the Vata. A good night's sleep can work wonders on weary and dry skin by restoring the water balance in the body and aiding moisture retention. Frequent late nights are known to perturb the Vata.
- Mindful practices: Stress is the biggest enemy of the Vata dosha. Incorporating de-stressors like light exercise, cardio, yoga, and meditation can help soothe the mind. Overall, this can positively affect your skin and give you a radiant glow.
- Adjust your shower temperature: Daily showers and baths greatly impact your skin. The skin is a delicate organ and gets affected by hot water, stripping it of its natural oils and damaging keratin cells. Switching to lukewarm water can help maintain the moisture balance in the skin.
Dry, flaky, or patchy skin is something many of us struggle with. Negligence on your part can further aggravate this condition. Remember, eating healthy, drinking lots of fluids, keeping stress at bay, practicing yoga or mindful breathing, hydrating adequately, and implementing dosha-specific skincare routines can help you combat this skin condition.
Understanding your Prakrit or body constitution is the first step to addressing skin conditions. Knowing your skin type based on your dosha can help you choose the right herbs and routine to keep dry skin at bay.
After all, Ayurveda is about practicing healthy habits and self-love. With time, you can get results that last long!
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