Ayurveda About Eczema

Eczema is a general term that describes several different conditions in which the skin is inflamed, red, scaly, and itchy. Eczema is a common skin condition, but can be very distressing, depending upon the severity of the complaints. The signs and symptoms of eczema vary from person to person, but in most people the skin is very itchy and tends to be very dry. Patches of red, swollen, and even drier skin develop. These patches may even become cracked, crusty, and scaly. If the affected skin becomes very inflamed, open sores, called ulcers may occur. A clear, sticky fluid may even weep from the affected skin. When the skin has been affected for a long time, it can become thick and leathery.

In the classical Ayurvedic texts an illness is described called Vicharchika, which is a chronic skin condition, manifesting symptoms such as severe itching, vesicular eruption and discharge. This condition is being compared to eczema in regular medicine. Vicharchika is one of the Kshudra Kushthas, or chronic skin diseases. This means that it is a type of eczema that is characterized by persistent or recurring skin rashes, that it runs a chronic course, and has a tendency of exacerbations (increase in the severity of the disease or its symptoms). All three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) may cause eczema, but in general the main dosha involved is Pitta. However, in the chronic form of eczema, all three doshas are involved. This means that symptoms will be varied and more persistent, and that multiple therapies are required to address the condition. Underlying eczema or Vicharchika is a contamination at a deep level of the body tissues, called Dhatu in Ayurveda. The main Dhatu involved is Rakta: blood. This contamination is due to causes, which we will discuss later in this article. But it is obvious that a thorough cleansing regime of the body is required to eliminate the deep-seated toxins that are causing eczema.

Different types of eczema All three dosha’s (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) may lead to eczema, though it is mainly an aggravation of Pitta dosha that is causing this condition. However, it is also possible that all three doshas are imbalanced at the same time, giving the disease a more chronic and persistent character. The different types of eczema are:

Vata-type eczema
Symptoms of Vata-type eczema include extreme dryness, scaling, exfoliation, itching, and much pain and throbbing. Vata skin is already naturally dry and hard, and tends to be itching and scaly. Vata eczema may be accompanied by all sorts of other typical Vata complaints, such as constipation, gas, distension, but also anxiety and insomnia. Cold, wind, dryness and stress aggravate the condition, while the symptoms are relieved by the application of (sesame) oil.

Pitta-type eczema
Pitta-type eczema is characterized by very different symptoms. The skin will be red, hot and inflamed, possibly with blisters or bleeding. Pitta-type persons are more prone towards seborrhoeic and contact eczema due to excess heat, especially in the armpits and on the scalp. Pitta skin, when balanced and healthy, is naturally warm, but is sensitive to infection. This will be aggravated by heat and heating foods, exposure to the sun and application of most oils, reflecting a state of heat and toxicity in the body.

Type Eczema
Kapha-type of eczema causes itching, oozing, and thickening of the skin. Kapha individuals may also be prone to seborrhoeic eczema, especially in between skin folds. The eczema may be accompanied by various other typical Kapha complaints, such as mucous congestion, lethargy and sluggish metabolism. Kapha skin tends to be naturally cold, clammy, sticky, oozing, swollen and itchy, with a pale complexion. This is aggravated by cold, damp, application of oils and eating dairy products and sugar or sweets.

It is also possible that all three doshas are involved in the condition. Then the various symptoms will be mixed, which is common in the more chronic cases. Eczema varies greatly between individuals. For some this condition can be acute and pass within a short period of time, while others experience

Chronic Symptoms. Causes of eczema according to Ayurveda Eczema is more common in Pitta individuals, and Pitta dosha is most likely to cause the condition. Pitta, with its fiery nature, can overheat the blood (Rakta Dhatu) and predispose to toxic conditions that manifest through the skin (a subdosha of Pitta: Bhrajaka Pitta is present in the skin). So besides the skin, the affected (toxic) blood is an underlying factor in the development of eczema. Pitta is aggravated due to various factors, such as diet (eating too many sour, salty or pungent foods, too many hot or oily foods or skipping meals), too much warmth or sunbathing and emotional traumas.

Another significant cause of eczema, according to Ayurveda, is weak digestion and accumulation of toxins, called Ama. These last two factors are actually two sides of the same coin. Our “digestive fire” or digestive strength Agni is namely one of the most important principles in the ancient science of Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, good health is dependent upon our capability to fully digest and eliminate food as well as process information taken in by our five senses. When this digestive capacity, called Agni, is balanced, we create healthy tissues, eliminate waste products efficiently and produce a subtle essence called “Ojas”. This is the basis of physical and emotional strength, and immunity and is key to feeling full of life. If, on the other hand, Agni is weakened, our digestion will be incomplete and create toxins that get stored in the body. This toxic residue is known as Ama. When Ama accumulates in the body, it blocks the flow of energy, information, and nourishment throughout the system. Ama creates imbalance of doshas and Dhatus and is viewed in Ayurveda as the underlying.

Cause of All Disease.
This means that, according to Ayurveda, eczema can occur when we’re not eating and living in harmony with our body’s constitution. This results in weakened Agni and increased Pitta. Aggravated Pitta will overheat the blood and accumulate toxins (Ama) in the blood. These toxins accumulate in the body tissues, contaminating them at a deep level and manifest in the skin as eczema. The more doshas and Dhatus are affected, the more severe the symptoms will be, and the higher the risk for chronic eczema. Ayurvedic treatment of eczema General treatment of eczema To treat eczema, it is essential to have the guidance of a skilled practitioner who can devise a herbal and dietary program specific to a person’s individual needs. Further along in this article, we will discuss the various types of eczema, as per dosha. But we will first look at the general treatment of eczema, based on the description of Vicharchika in the classical Ayurvedic texts. This will emphasize on balancing Pitta dosha and Rakta Dhatu (blood).

First of all, it is important to follow a Pitta-balancing diet. Pitta’s main element is fire, and an excess of Pitta will therefore overheat the entire system. To balance Pitta, the body needs cooling foods and drinks, such as salads, cucumber, fresh fruit and cool fruit juices, but never ice-cold.

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