Minimizing Summer Skin Problems with Ayurveda

By this point in time, everyone knows that the sun can cause severe damage to the skin. Our skin is the largest organ in our body and is one of the main organs of purification. It acts as an insulator, regulates body temperature, and protects us from the harmful radiations of the sun. During the long days of summer, when exposure to the sun is at its peak, the risk of damage to our skin increases multifold.

Over-exposure to sunshine can allow extreme ultraviolet (UV) rays to penetrate through the layers of our skin, harming the DNA of our cells. From the perspective of Ayurveda, the intensity of the sun’s heat during the summer also aggravates Pitta dosha.

According to Ayurveda, most skin problems are associated with an imbalance of Pitta dosha, which governs metabolism, heat, and digestion. Pitta has five subdivisions or “subdoshas”, and one of them, Bhranjaka Pitta, resides in the skin. Its imbalance can cause rashes, boils, acne, and skin disorders of all types.

Problems with Pitta dosha are not limited to the summer time. One of the reasons that acne is common in early adolescence is because that is the time of life when Pitta begins to increase in the physiology. In babies and young children, Kapha is the predominant dosha. Kapha is the formative element that maintains the physical structure, providing support and substance in the body. Kapha makes up our bones, muscles, and fat; it lubricates joints and helps us maintain immunity. During the crucial early years of growth and physical development, Kapha is working overtime.

As we approach adolescence, however, the body begins transitioning from Kapha-predominate to Pitta-predominant. The hormonal changes of puberty are activated by Pitta. This increase in Pitta also causes skin problems.

Whether we are in the Pitta time of life or not, if we have problems with acne, rashes or other skin problems, one of the most basic Ayurvedic approaches is to pacifying Pitta dosha.

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Tips for Pacifying Pitta Dosha

1) Avoid foods that aggravate Pitta, such a fried and oily foods, processed foods, chocolate, and junk food. Avoid hot, spicy or sour foods (including cheese). Avoid red meat, which is especially Pitta aggravating.

2) Opt for foods that pacify Pitta. Sweet fruits and fresh vegetables are your best choice in the summer. In addition to being cooling, they provide essential nutrients and have free-radical fighting properties. Look for locally grown asparagus, zucchini, summer squashes, celery, cucumbers and an assortment of leafy greens. Sweet, juicy fruits such as watermelon, mangos, grapes and pears all help cool, nourish and cleanse.

3) The sun can increase the production of sebum, causing the skin to become more oily than usual. When the oil combines with dirt and sweat, pores can get clogged. Be meticulous about your cleansing routine, morning and night. Do not apply oils to areas affected by acne, even when you do your daily Ayurvedic oil massage.

4) Avoid harsh chemicals. Make sure the water you bathe with is not highly chlorinated or chemically treated. Swimming pools, while providing a cooling sports activity during the summer, can aggravate Pitta-related skin conditions. Fresh lakes and ponds are a better option, if available. Ideally, use a water filter on your shower.

5) Instead of washing your face with soap, mix room temperature, purified water and barley flour to a thin paste to make a gentle and effective cleanser. To really pamper your skin, remove the paste using room temperature milk — followed by a final rinse with room temperature water.

6) Drink more water. Water is the best beverage for those with skin problems. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are also fine but avoid canned or bottled juices and sodas, as those contain less of the vital qualities needed to nourish your skin. Air conditioners are also dehumidifiers. While they keep us cool they are also very drying. Air conditioners also prevent sweating, which is our body’s natural way of detoxing. Drinking lots of water will help keep your skin hydrated and will also help in the elimination of toxins.

7) Avoid caffeinated drinks, carbonated drinks and iced drinks. Caffeinated drinks are actually dehydrating. Ices and carbonated drinks can diminish our ability to digest food, leading to a toxic accumulation of ama. Because the skin is one of the leading organs for elimination and purification, an accumulation of ama can lead to skin problems.

8) Get plenty of rest. Because the summer daylight hours are longer, it can be tempting to stay up late. However, no matter what the season, the rest gained from 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM is considered to be the deepest and most regenerative sleep.

Your pineal gland is your internal clock. As the sun sets, the pineal gland senses the change in light transmitted through your eyes and it begins to secrete melatonin, preparing the body for sleep. Typically, within one to two hours after the sunset, you will begin to feel drowsy as melatonin levels rise. This is the body’s signal to go to sleep. By midnight your melatonin levels have peaked. There is a gradual decline in melatonin levels after midnight.

If you are still up and active after 10:00, the “second wind” phenomenon kicks in. This is driven by Pitta dosha. This late-night Pitta cycle is designed to repair and regenerate the body. This can only be experienced if you are asleep. Repeatedly staying up during the evening Pitta cycle can create deep Pitta imbalances and interfere with the body’s ability to stay balanced and healthy.

9) One of the main seats of Pitta is the eyes. Always wear sunglasses in the summer. In the evening, try splashing cool water on your eyes. Soaking a cotton ball with cool water or rose water and placing it over your eyes for 10 minutes can help cool the eyes.

If your skin condition persists or worsens, you may want to consult with an Ayurveda expert in your area. For more information on consultations at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa visit the web site:

http://www.theraj.com

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