Ayurveda states that diseases are the result of imbalances of doshas in the body. Doshas are different types of energy that govern bodily functions. Each person’s body constituency is based on three doshas called vata, pitta and kapha and out of it one or more doshas will be dominant. Dry skin is caused by vata dosha. When vata dosha increases in body it reduces kapha and makes skin dry and wrinkled. (Kapha keeps skin soft and smooth where as vata makes the skin dry and rough. Vata dosha’s qualities are opposite to kapha dosha qualities). According to Ayurveda dry skin is the result of excess vata dosha in the body.
The causes which increase vata dosha in body
- Exposure to cold and dry climate
- Controlling natural urges like urination, defecation, hunger, thirst, etc.
- Staying awake at unearthly hours (late night). Irregular food habits.
- Excess physical and mental exertion.
- Consumption of spicy, dry, bitter food.
General Causes of Dry Skin
Our skin is soft and smooth because of oil glands found under our skin. The skin becomes dry when these glands fail to supply sufficient lubrication to keep the skin soft and smooth.
- The cold and dry weather of winter takes its own toll on the skin. The cold, dry weather of winter brings about drying of skin making it scaly. Lack of sufficient humidity outdoors also leads to dry skin. Indoor heating further removes the traces of moisture and aggravates dryness of skin. Thus in winter the skin becomes extremely dry.
- Dry skin condition may occur due to genetic factors.
- Dry skin condition may arise from nutritional deficiencies due to poor diet.
- Unhealthy practices like exposure to extreme weather conditions, bathing for long time in very hot water, using harsh soaps, swimming in chlorinated water, chemicals and harsh cosmetics.
- The skin loses its capacity to retain moisture, as we grow old. The extreme climatic conditions to which we get exposed, as we grow old worsen the condition and skin becomes more dry.
- Few underlying diseases like hypothyroidism, diabetes, eczema, psoriasis or seborrhea may also lead to dry skin.
- Dry skin may arise as an effect of medications like diuretics, antihistamines and antispasmodics.
Dry skin looks dull and life less due to lack of moisture. Well hydrated skin glows and exhibits a healthy look. Wrinkles develop at an early age due to prolonged dryness of skin. Dry, rough and wrinkled skin gives an aged appearance. Dry and cracked skin harbor microbes and cause fungal infections. Excess drying of skin leads to dry eczema.
Hence a proper care should be taken to increase the moisture level of skin and prevent drying. Soft, smooth and wrinkle free skin gives young and healthy look.
As Ayurveda is a comprehensive health system, it uses herbal treatments, dietary recommendations, and lifestyle changes to bring the irate doshas under control.
Some Ayurvedic Tips to keep dry skin away
- Try to keep yourself warm during cold climate, but do not sit near the fireplace.
- Don’t have dry, fried or stale food. Avoid leftover food which is heated again and again for consumption.
- Always consume warm properly cooked food. The oil used for cooking should be olive oil, ghee or clarified butter oil.
- You can also have sour and salty foods.
- You can have juicy fruits.
- Avoid drinking cold water and other refrigerated drinks. It increases vata and to keep vata balanced drink warm water throughout the day.
- Massaging with vata-balancing herbal oil before bath would do good to keep vata problems away.
- In your diet try to increase the use of vata-balancing herbs and spices like anise, basil, caraway, cilantro, cinnamon, clove, cumin, ginger, mustard, nutmeg, oregano and sage.
- It is good to avoid bitter or astringent herbs such as coriander seed, fenugreek, parsley and saffron.
- Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule and sleeping 8 hrs would keep vata balanced.
- Drink 7-9 glasses of warm water every day. (Do not drink cold water as it increases vata)
Here are the natural tips to take care of dry skin
- Do not use hot water to cleanse dry skin.
- Use a soft cotton cloth and pat dry your skin. Do not rub the skin with harsh, rough textured towels.
- Instead of washing with water use a clean sprayer to moisten your skin. Use mineral water instead of tap water for spray.
- Lightly pat dry the skin.
- Avoid using harsh soaps and face washes as they remove natural oil that protects your skin.
- Pamper your skin by massaging with moisturizer. Moisturizer increases the moisture of upper layer of skin and makes it soft and smooth.
- Regularly massage your body with herbal oil. Herbal oil softens and sooth the dry skin and help to trap the moisture between skin pores.
- Apply a thin layer of coconut oil before finishing the bath and pat dry the skin
Avoid alcohol-based cleansers.
- Consume a balanced diet which includes foods from all groups like vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates, cereals, milk and milk products.
- Include yellow and orange vegetables like carrot which have rich anti oxidants.
- Avoid junk food like chips, deep fried food etc.
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General Physician & Dietitian
An Ayurveda Clinic