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Skin Inflammations in Ayurveda

Written by Alakananda Ma

Skin inflammations are becoming increasingly common, with atopic dermatitis or eczema affecting 10–20% of all children and 1–3% of adults and psoriasis affecting between 2 and 2.6% of the US population.

The prevalence of atopic dermatitis prevalence has doubled or tripled in industrialized countries during the past three decades. The visible and often disfiguring nature of skin inflammations leads to far greater levels of distress and depression than would be experienced with a more severe but less disfiguring condition. (2) Because a number of patients are suspicious of cortisone creams prescribed for them by their family practitioner or dermatologist, they may frequently present for Ayurvedic care as an alternative.

Skin and Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, skin has seven layers, corresponding to the seven dhatus. Similarly, in modern physiology, skin has been found to have seven layers, stratum corneum, on the surface, stratum lucidum, stratum granulosum, stratum spinosum, stratum basale, the basement membrane and the dermis. (See diagram of the seven layers of the skin.) At the same time, the epidermis of the skin, as whole, is seen as an secondary (upadhatu) of plasma tissue (rasa dhatu)and the dermis as part of muscle tissue (mamsa dhatu). Skin belongs to bahya marga, the external pathway of disease, and as such is very vulnerable to toxins carried by plasma rasa) and blood (rakta dhatus) during the spreading (prasara) stage of disease, accounting for the relatively common nature of skin inflammations. 

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