Did you know that many different types of eczema exist out there? For instance, ever wonder why you have dry, flaky eczema, while someone else has red, weepy eczema?
Looking at eczema from an Ayurvedic perspective can help us understand why different types of eczema occur. Thankfully, it will also teach us how to deal with each of them. This is important because someone with red, weepy eczema will be treated differently than someone with dry, itch, eczema.
To give you some background, Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. It is very popular and shares some similarities with Traditional Chinese Medicine (which also has its roots in Ayurveda!). One of my favourite skin care product lines make their products based on ayurvedic principles.
Ayurveda believes that each person has a unique “Dosha” dominance which warrants unique nutrition, lifestyle and therapy. Identifying your Dosha enables you to determine suitable diet, exercise and lifestyle for controlling eczema.
Here are 3 types of Eczema categorized by Ayurveda:
1. Vata Eczema:
You likely have Vata eczema if you have….
- Rough, dry, flaky skin
- Hard, itchy skin
Vata type: People with Vata eczema have an excess of air and wind within their bodies. There may also be associated constipation, anxiety and insomnia. In addition, the skin is often aggravated by cold, wind, dryness and stress. Like the air, the skin can become dry, flaky and thin. Shedding can also occur, which is brought on by a lack of oil and water in the skin. Vata eczema can also be aggravated during the winter months when it gets really dry, and it becomes more difficult to rehydrate the skin.
So, what helps Vata Eczema?
The skin is often relieved by the application of oils and rich salves. Since people with eczema often have difficulty converting Omega 3 fatty acid EFAs to DHA and EPA, taking omega fatty acids internally will help significantly (flax seed oil helps a lot as well!). In addition, avoiding dry foods like dense meats, breads, crackers and dried fruits will also help. Increasing soups, stews and water-rich veggies (such as cucumbers) will not only add moisture to the skin, but it can also help with constipation, which also contributes to Vata eczema.
Since people with Vata eczema have a tendency towards worry, anxiety, it’s also important to take time to work on your emotions (such as taking time to relax, implementing affirmations into your life, doing something you enjoy, and taking time to do deep breathing throughout the day).
2. Pitta Eczema:
You likely have Pitta eczema if you have….
- Hot and inflamed skin
- Sometimes accompanied by a burning sensation
Pitta type: The skin is often hot and inflamed. It becomes aggravated by heat and heating foods, exposure to the sun, and the application of most oils. This type of eczema often reflects a state of heat and toxicity in the body. There tends to be burning, redness, oozing, swelling and infection which can be aggravated by the fire dosha, which prompts redness and a burning sensation.
This type of eczema needs hydration, but not oil. In fact – oil should be avoided (during the outbreak). Some people with this type of eczema will break out after applying oils (even if it’s anti-inflammatory oil). A good analogy is cooking; when you cook, it increases the heat, and this type of inflamed eczema needs calming and cooling.
So, what helps Pitta Eczema?
Aloe vera gel, plant milks and chamomile water helps to reduce the “heat” and inflammation. In addition, avoiding acid-forming foods is important. Acid is another form of Pitta, and those who are naturally prone to high Pitta and inflammation are also predisposed to hyperacidity. One way to mitigate this is by using turmeric (whether in capsule form or in a powder form during cooking). Turmeric is an amazing anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agent to help calm down the inflammation.
Following an anti-Pitta diet, and avoiding possible allergens such as dairy produce, vegetables from the nightshade family, as well as citrus (like oranges) can help. Sour and hot spicy foods are best avoided, while bitter and astringent foods are recommended. Exposure to sun and heat is also best avoided. Internally, it is also important to examine your digestion and acidity. Since Pitta governs the digestive fire, when digestion is poor and overworked, it can express itself as Pitta eczema.
3. Kapha Eczema
You likely have Kapha eczema if you have….
- Wet eczema
- Cold, clammy, sticky, oozing skin
Kapha type: Kapha often prompts water-retention, excess oil and lethargy. This type of eczema is usually accompanied by mucous congestion, lethargy and sluggish metabolism. The skin tends to be cold, clammy, sticky, oozing, swollen and itchy, with a pale complexion. In addition, it is often aggravated by cold, damp, application of oils and foods, such as dairy products and sugar.
So, what helps Kapha Eczema?
Kapha eczema usually occurs during the season’s change – especially when we enter into a wetter season. Again, Kapha eczema should avoid oils – but this should only be done when there is an eczema outbreak. When the outbreak calms down, keeping the skin moist will support its barrier function. Again, taking turmeric internally is excellent for its anti-bacterial properties. But what is even more important, is following a diet that decreases “dampness” (dampness occurs when the body is full of toxins).
This is most easily done by following a diet that helps to reduce candida (i.e. avoiding sugars, fermented foods, dairy and yeast). Probiotics will also gently help fight bad bacteria in the body, and staying hydrated will help to cleanse the body on a cellular level.
There is so much more that you can learn about the doshas and how it affects your skin. You can take this dosha quiz to figure out which one is most like you. For myself, I feel most like the Vata type and I scored the highest points on it (so I can definitely relate to the symptoms)!
What about you? Is there a certain dosha you relate most to?
Don’t forget that while it can be difficult to keep your skin resilient during such drastic weather, don’t let the eczema get you down. When you become more methodical and holistic about your treatment, your skin and body systems will begin to balance itself out. 🙂
Abby is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who helps clients achieve optimal health. She is passionate about seeing people use health and nutrition to transform lives. She hopes that her experiences and knowledge can help educate others on natural remedies that will help eczema. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube for more updates!
Disclaimer: All the information found on this website should be used for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace proper medical advice. Always consult a qualified health care provider before embarking on a health or supplement plan.