General Causes For Skin Diseases As Per Ayurveda

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Kushta is a condition explained in Ayurvedic treatises which covers wide array of skin disorders under its canopy.
Let us have a look at the causative factors leading skin disorders with an Ayurvedic vision. 

Ahara rupa nidanas (foods causing kushta)
Virodheeni anna paanaani

Mutually Incompatible food substances / drinks cause Kushta. Ayurveda has explained Viruddha aharas (foods and drinks which are incompatible in combinations and incompatible to the body in various forms). Even in modern day we have seen that there are food interactions. When many types of foods are taken, one may be incompatible with the other. Food allergies and food poisoning can be included under this category. Among various allergies, they may cause skin allergy by producing some undesired toxins in the body, which when put into circulation reaches the skin and cause Kushta.
Read related: Wrong Food Combinations And Solution As Per Ayurveda

Drava Ahara
Excessive consumption of liquid foods will dilute the pitta or agni (metabolic fire). The diluted pitta will not be able to digest the food to its best. The improperly digested food essence i.e. ama (metabolic toxins) is put into circulation and gets associated with the dhatus i.e. tissues, including the rasa dhatu (nutritional fluid). When this rasa, associated with ama reaches the skin, it causes skin disorders.
Read related: How Much Water Should You Actually Drink? Ayurveda Opinion

Snigdha Ahara – Too much consumption of unctuous foods (oily and fried foods) causes excessive unctuousness of the cells, leads to disturbance of metabolism, excessive fat deposition and errors of fat metabolism. All these predispose to kushta or skin disorders. Excessive unctuousness of skin predisposes skin disorders due to infection.

Guru Ahara – Hard to digest foods (heavy foods) doesn’t get digested easily and get stale in the stomach. This leads to formation of ama. The ama put into circulation blocks the channels and deprives the tissues from nutrition, including skin. The circulating toxins also damage the skin and hamper skin defenses. The skin becomes susceptible to wide array of skin disorders.

Sheeta Ushnam Kramam Tyaktwa Nishevanam Excessive consumption of foods which are cold / hot out of proportions and necessity. Eating very cold foods soon after very hot foods, vice versa. Too much cold foods vitiate vata and kapha. Too much hot foods contaminate pitta and rakta (blood). These vitiated doshas damage the tissues including the skin. When the skin gets damaged it gets susceptible for infections and diseases.

Langhanam Kramam Tyaktwa Nishevanam – Fasting in excess or out of proportions and necessity is bad for skin health (as is bad for general health). The skin is deprived of nutrition and gets susceptible for kushta (skin diseases).
Read related: When To Stop Fasting? Warning Symptoms To Watch

Ajeerna Indigestion of the food is one of the chief causes of many systemic diseases. Indigestion not only deprives the cells of nutrition and oxygenation, it also is the chief cause for formation of ama or endotoxins. This ama or circulating toxins damage the skin cells and makes it susceptible to kushta.

Adhyashanam Taking food even as the previously taken food has not been totally digested or eating in less intervals or frequent eating leads to indigestion which further leads to Ama and skin diseases.

Nava anna adi ahita aaharani – The below mentioned food substances are said to be incompatible or hazardous to the skin or disturb the skin health when taken in excess. They are not supposed to be taken continuously for longer period of time  –

  • Nava Anna – Newly harvested rice or food items prepared from this rice
  • Dadhi – Curds
  • Matsya – Fish
  • Lavana – Salty foods
  • Amla – Sour foods
  • Masha – Black gram
  • Moolaka – Radish
  • Pishta Anna – Rice flour and other flours or preparations (foods or dishes) made out of flours
  • Tila – Sesame
  • Ksheera – Milk, milk products or dishes produced from milk
  • Guda ashinam – Jaggery and dishes prepared with jaggery

Vihara roopa nidaanas (lifestyle practices causing kushta)
Bhajataam Aagataam Chardim Vegaan Cha Anyaan Pratighnataam – Forcibly withholding or controlling the impending urges (reflexes), especially that of Chardi or vomiting cause retention of the toxins and wastes which the body wants to throw out. These toxins are put into the circulation and damage the skin making it susceptible to wide array of diseases (kushta) or they themselves cause skin disorders.

Vyaayaamam Ati Santaapam Ati Bhuktwa Upasevinaam
Excessive exercise (or physical exertion)
exposure to sunlight (heat of sun or fire) immediately after intake of food leads to chronic indigestion, formation of ama and consequential skin disorders.

Gharma Shrama Bhaya Arthaanaam Dhrutam Sheeta Ambu Sevinaam
Intake of water or taking bath immediately after exposure to heat, exertion and fear has damaging effect on the skin

Vyavaayam Cha Api Ajeerne Anne
Sexual indulgence while the person has indigestion leads to aggravation of Vayu and other morbid doshas leading to kushta.

Nidraam Cha Bhajataam Divaa
Excessive day sleep leads to kapha prokopa (vitiation of kapha), increases fluidity of the body cells, leads to indigestion, and formation of ama and consequent manifestation of Kushta.
Read related: Day sleep – Sleeping in the day – good or bad? Ayurveda details

Chikitsa Apachara Roopa Nidaanas (causes in the form of improperly implemented treatments)
Panchakarma Apachaarinaam – Improper administration or follow up of Panchakarma treatments or not following the rules and regulations and restrictions advised therein or doing the contraindicated causes either excessive elimination of doshas or deficit elimination of doshas leading to retained toxins or damage and disturbance of normal functioning of tissues leading to Kushta.

Achara Rupa Nidanas (Kushta caused by abnormal behavior, deeds or unethical ways of living, going against the code and conduct of life)
Vipraan Guroon Gharshayataam – Insulting or rejecting the Brahmins, learned people and Teachers leads to their reciprocation in the form of curse which is said to have damaging effect on the skin in a longer run.

Papam Karma Cha Kurvataam – Excessive indulgence of sinful deeds either in this birth or in previous incarnation. Excessive smoking, alcohol consumption, crimes, sexual offences etc may be included in this category.

Causes for Kushta (skin diseases) as mentioned in Kushta Nidana Chapter of Charaka Samhita:
Doshas get simultaneously vitiated by the following:
Shītoṣṇavyatyāsamanānupūrvyopasevamānasya tathā santarpaṇāpatarpaṇābhyavahāryavyatyāsaṃ – Non –compliance of the prescribed rules with regard to the order of responding to hot and cold regimens and intake of nourishing and depleting diets:
Madhu phāṇita matsya lakuca mūla kakākamācīḥ satatam atimātramajīrṇe ca samaśnataḥ – Continuous intake of honey, pendium, fish, Lakucha (Artocarpus Lakooch Roxb), Radish and Kakamachi (Solanum Nigrum Linn) in large quantity while suffering from indigestion.
Chilicimaṃ ca payasā – Intake of Cilicima (fish) with milk
Intake of food mostly containing
Hayanaka (Oryza sativa linn), Yavaka (a type of Hordeum Vulgare Linn),
Cinaka (cucumis utilissimus), Uddalaka (paspalum scrobiculatum) and Koradusa (Paspalum Scorbiculatum Linn) along with milk, curd, butter, milk, Kola (Zizyphus Radiatus Linn), Atasi (Linumustitatissimum Linn), Kusumbha (carthamus Tinctorious Linn), and unctuous substances
Etairevātimātraṃ suhitasya ca vyavāya vyāyāma santāpānatyupasevamānasya – Excessive indulgence in cohabitation, physical exercise and exposure to heat after taking the above mentioned food to one’s satisfaction

Bhaya śrama santāpopahatasya ca sahasā śītodakamavatarataḥ – Entering into cold water immediately after one is afflicted with Bhaya (fear), Shrama (exhaustion) and Santapa (grief)
Vidagdhaṃ cāhārajātamanullikhya vidāhīnyabhyavaharataḥ – Intake of such food as would cause burning sensation without vomiting out the undigested food (in the stomach)
Chardiṃ ca pratighnataḥ – Suppression of the urge for emesis and
Snehāṃścāticarataḥ – Excessive oleation

The above factors also loses the 4 Dhatus, viz. Tvak (skin or Rasa dhatu) etc. the aggravated Doshas localized in these Dhatus vitiate the latter due to their looseness and so produce Kusthas.
Read related: Charaka Kushta Nidana: 5th chapter

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How Kushta is Caused?
Due to the above said causative factors, the 3 doshas namely Vata, Pitta and Kapha get vitiated.
The vitiated doshas in turn contaminate the
Twak (Skin),
Rakta (Blood),
Mamsa (Flesh) and the
Ambu (Fluids of the body)
causing skin diseases of various forms and presentations.

Thus Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Twak, Rakta, Mamsa and Ambu form the 7 essential elements in the causation of Kushta.
The Kushta thus formed manifest in the form of 7 types of Maha Kushta (Major Skin diseases) and 11 Kshudra Kushta’s (Minor Skin Diseases).

All the Kushtas are manifested due to contamination of all the 3 Doshas, none are manifested due to the vitiation of only one Dosha.
Read related: Charak Samhita Kushta Chikitsa – 7th Chapter

Just Before Finishing –
Ayurveda is the best in the business of dealing with and comprehensively treating acute and chronic skin diseases including the worst and complicated ones.
Prevention is better than cure; this rule is applicable to many diseases including skin disorders.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)

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  1. Thank you for this very interesting article. What is the best way to keep proper level of vitamin D in the blood? How long one can be exposed to direct sunlight in northern countries? Where to get vitamin D from that is easy to absorb by the body?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Sources of Vitamin D
      Salmon, Tuna, Cod liver oil, Fish, fortified cereals, oysters, fortified soy products, ham, dairy products, egg, mushroom,
      yogurt, cheese, orange juice, zuccini, tomato,

      Sun exposure to early morning mild sunlight for 10 – 20 minutes is good.

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