Sujal Patil Torgal
They say skin is the mirror of our health! Any good or bad changes happening in the system are reflected on the skin. Some are quick whereas others are gradual.Being the largest organ, it performs many important functions from protection to thermoregulation. Research has been going on for centuries in order to find the secrets to young, fair and glowing skin. Skin products continue to form a very big part of global markets for the same reason. But no matter one’s skin colour, it is indeed important to always keep it in the pink of health.
According to modern medicine, skin has grossly three layers. The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin which provides a waterproof barrier and creates the skin tone. Skin colour is created by special cells called melanocytes which produce the pigment melanin. Melanocytes are located in the epidermis. The dermis is beneath the epidermis, and has tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands. The deeper subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis) is made up of fat and connective tissue.
According to ayurveda , skin or twacha is the seat of sparshan indriya (tactile sensory organ). Ayurveda considers it to be made of seven layers. During embryogenesis it is described that the seven layers of skin are formed from the dhatus (fundamental bodily entities) just as cream is formed on top of hot milk, increasing in thickness as the milk gradually gets cooler. It is a matruj avayava ie derived from mother or having maternal origin. (This is an important fact in terms of establishing hereditary causes of various skin disorders).
The functions of skin include protection; sensory functions; heat regulation; control of evaporation; aesthetics and communication; storage and synthesis for lipids and water, vitamin D; excretion of urea; temperature regulation; absorption of certain local applications and medications; water resistance; etc.
Our skin’s nature and texture is based on our constitution – the dosha dominance in the body. Accordingly skin shows characteristics in normalcy and abnormal conditions. It is importance to know your type for management and care.
Ayurveda considers skin importance as it is the seat of our sense of touch, one of the five sensory organs. It is also considered an important medium for various treatments when oral or any other routes cannot be used.
Various systemic disorders show their implications on the skin surface which makes skin examination a mandatory affair in general examination. Various important and not so important signs and symptoms ranging from change of skin colour, texture, temperature, thickness, rash, discharge, pain or tenderness, numbness or hypersensitivity, itching, etc, are to be checked when assessing any peculiar skin disorder or systemic disorder. Nails and hair form an important part of skin assessment.
Skin disorders range from minor rashes to major infectious disorders which can be microbial, allergic, genetic, auto-immune or related to systemic disorders. But any disorder is linked to faulty diet and lifestyle by default, even if it is microbial or auto-immune in nature. General causes include heavily polluted air and water, improper food, pathogenic attack, exposure to radiations (natural/artificial), over-rated usage of cosmetics, drug reaction, allergies, lack of hygiene, stress and emotional imbalances, etc.
Ayurveda has explained certain causes which usually are missed out on but are important. These are eating irrespective to one’s constitution, eating incompatible food in the same meal (milk with meat), and exposure to cold and hot temperatures simultaneously (AC exposure after spending time in the sun), chronic indigestion, excessive consumption of newly harvested rice or its preparations, curds and its derivatives, fish, salt, sour foods, or forcibly withholding or controlling the impending natural urges, excessive exercise or physical exertion or exposure to sunlight (heat) or fire immediately after intake of food, etc. These causes do not display immediate results but are dangerous over a period of time. It is important to avoid these diet and lifestyle blunders if one is suffering from a skin disorder or even as a preventive measure.
The key to have ageless, lustrous and healthy skin is to start working early on it.
Here are some measures to earn younger looking healthy skin.
Eat according to your constitution and compatibility, season, climate and geographical orientation. (No pizzas for Indians every day) it is indeed important that our digestive system should be healthy to assure healthy skin.
Diet should be light for digestion, comprising of all the six tastes, although bitter is good for the skin in moderate amounts, less salty, pungent and sour. Avoid heavy greasy, fermented food, excessive oily, non vegetarian or starchy food.
Drink optimum amounts of boiled water.
Include internal moisturiser as a pure ghee in your daily diet if you enjoy good metabolism.
Avoid over exposure to radiations and heat (Sun during noon, heat from gadgets and furnaces.)
Avoid exposure to allergens.
Regular self-body massage with sesame oil proves to be ideal in maintaining the lustre, tone and colour of the skin. It’s a very good anti-aging therapy. (This should not be done in inflammatory conditions).
Steam is a great way to detoxify superficially as it facilitates sweating.
Herb-based scrubs (dry/wet) like green gram, green tea, neem-epsom salt, coconut-turmeric, etc, are very good to prevent recurrent skin infections.
Certain applications can be used on a daily basis or as treatments in specific disorders (only after consultations).
Maintain hygiene and avoid carbolic soaps. Avoid undue indulgence in cosmetics which are harsh in nature.
Dress comfortably and preferably cotton garments.
Manage stress and emotional turbulences. Practice pranayam and yoga on a regular basis.
Seek medical advice in recurrent and chronic illnesses.
In certain conditions local application of ointments or lotions is not the solution as the problem is rooted deeply in the system. Consult an ayurvedic physician for skin assessment, management and treatment.
Healthy skin is what we should long for, sans the fairness!
(Writer is CMO at Traya Natural Health Centre, Dona Paula)