Ayurvedic Treatments for Eczema | Remedy | 3 Stages of Treatment

It’s estimated that one in ten people will develop eczema during their lifetime, which is most common in childhood but often lasts into (or emerges during) adulthood. From severe itching to painful dryness, eczema can be an uncomfortable condition to live with – but Ayurvedic principles can help to identify the root causes and, often, provide relief.

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What is Eczema

Eczema is one of the most prevalent skin conditions globally, affecting 40% of the population (or one in five children and one in twelve adults in the UK alone). ‘Eczema’ comes from the Greek word ‘ekzein’, meaning ‘to boil out’.

Healthy skin cells are plumped up with water, fat and oils, forming a protective barrier against infection and helping our skin to retain moisture and maintain body temperature. If you have eczema, your skin is less able to retain water and produces less fat and oil, allowing bacteria and irritants to pass through more quickly. There is a flare-up, with the skin becoming itchy, irritated, cracked and inflamed.

Symptoms of Eczema

Eczema symptoms include itching, dryness and even chronic lesions, most commonly on the hands, face and legs (although it can spread across the body). Eczema can worsen in hot or cold temperatures, after sweating, on contact with irritating chemicals (like harsh laundry detergents), during stress or when allergens are in the air.

There are several types of eczema, the most common being atopic dermatitis. Others include seborrhoeic dermatitis (eczema resulting from dandruff), contact dermatitis (resulting from contact with a skin irritant), xerotic eczema (characterised by extreme skin dryness), and more.

What is Eczema according to Ayurveda?

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Ayurveda describes eczema as ‘Vicharchika’, with symptoms including intense itching, blisters and boils, pigment changes, dry or rough skin, and secretion.

Ayurveda recognises the skin as consisting of three essential layers, each governed by one of the three doshas. The outer layer (known as ‘Apicharma’) is in constant contact with the outside world and tends to get dry and irritable. People predominantly Vata dosha are likelier to suffer from skin disorders at this superficial layer, such as dry eczema and dandruff. The second layer of skin is warmer, consisting of connective tissue and blood vessels. Pitta people are more prone to inflammatory eczema here, rosacea, and other inflammatory skin conditions. The third layer comprises connective tissue, fat and blood, containing the most moisture. Disease at this layer is less common and often more chronic, such as Psoriasis and wet eczema, and tends to affect Kapha people the most.

Most skin conditions originate from deeper bodily imbalances, excessive heat and toxicity, exacerbated by stress and seasonal changes. Ayurvedic practitioners can address these using holistic treatments to radically improve a patient’s quality of life.

Causes of Eczema

According to Ayurveda, eczema is thought to occur when your doshas are out of balance. This can be caused by several things, stretching across diet and other lifestyle factors, as well as emotional stress and genetics. Some dietary factors that may cause eczema include:

  • Eating too much fatty, oily or salty food (particularly junk food).
  • Eating food that is difficult to digest, such as dairy products.
  • Eating too much seafood.
  • Eating a lot of sesame.

Some lifestyle factors that may cause eczema include:

  • Too much stress over an extended period of time.
  • Poor levels of personal hygiene.
  • Suppressing the natural needs of our body, as well as our feelings.
  • Performing intense physical activity frequently.
  • Showering with cold water after a day in the sun.
  • Eating when we are still full from a previous meal.
  • Frequently sleeping during the day.

Ayurvedic medicine believes that any or a combination of the activities above can cause the doshas to become aggravated, causing skin dryness and inflammation.

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Ayurvedic Treatments for Eczema

Ayurvedic treatment for eczema will usually start by determining whether the skin condition is Vata, Pitta or Kapha dominant. While any of the dosha can be dominant, Pitta is almost always a factor in eczema as it governs the liver, blood and digestion – all of which affect the texture and health of the skin.

Once the root imbalances have been determined, an Ayurvedic practitioner will determine a treatment path, including healthy food and lifestyle changes to support ‘Brahmacharya’: energy management. In Ayurveda, Brahmacharya is the third pillar of life. The word derives from ‘Brahma’, meaning God, and ‘Charya’, meaning conduct. In that way, Brahmacharya means ‘conduct motivated by the search for God’. In other words, Brahmacharya is about staying connected with ourselves and our environment to make the best choices for our entire being.

Ayurvedic practitioners often recommend that you avoid spicy, oily, sour, fried and fatty foods, including red meat, coffee and alcohol, and instead eat a plant-rich diet, choosing a cooling and astringent food and drink to pacify Pitta. For severe itching (suggesting Kapha involvement), a practitioner may also suggest reducing sugar and dairy. Vegetables from the nightshade family, such as tomatoes and aubergine, can also contribute to inflammation.

People with eczema need to stay hydrated, consuming plenty of water alongside liquorice tea and aloe vera juice.

Nutrients including zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C and essential fatty acids can help to ease symptoms, along with herbs including cardamom, turmeric, Triphala, neem and Indian sarsaparilla. Tea tree oil and neem oil can also help to relieve itching and reduce redness, while aloe vera gel and coconut oil can soothe dry lesions.

Alongside these dietary changes, an Ayurvedic doctor might suggest other lifestyle adjustments, such as daily exercise, meditation and breathing exercises to relax the nervous system, avoiding daytime naps, and maintaining good personal hygiene. To avoid further irritating the skin, gently dry after washing using tapping movements and wear loose clothes made of natural fabrics. Some practitioners recommend consuming ghee butter daily to reduce toxins and soothe skin problems.

Panchakarma Treatments

One of the core treatments for eczema (as well as other skin conditions like acne) in Ayurvedic medicine is Panchakarma therapy, cleansing and rejuvenating the mind and body.

Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘five actions’ or ‘five treatments’. The system balances the three doshas (Tridosha), removes toxins and supports the immune system. Usually, the body can efficiently process and remove waste materials, including the vitiated doshas. However, bad habits like poor eating or exercise patterns can disorganise the metabolic system and hormones. This, in turn, can lead to an accumulation and spread of toxins, which cause disease (this is called ‘Ama’).

Panchakarma is a bio-cleansing regimen intended to eliminate toxins from the body and increase the effectiveness of therapeutic regimens like Rasayana (Rejuvenation) and Vajikarana (Aphrodisiac). Thus, Panchakarma therapy is believed to prevent the development of disease-causing factors and maintain dosha equilibrium.

There are three steps to doing Panchakarma.

  1. Preparatory procedure (purva karma )
  2. Operative procedure (pradhana karma )
  3. Post-operative procedure (paschat karma)

The first stage is Purvakarma, where oleation therapy (a full-body massage with ghee, herbs and oils) and intense sweating loosen excess doshas and toxins accumulated in the body.

During the second stage, specialised treatments are administered to expel impurities and revitalise the system. These include

  • Vamana (medicalised vomiting)
  • Virechana (purging focused on the small intestine)
  • Nasya (nasal purging)
  • Vasti (colonic irrigation)
  • Raktamokshana (bloodletting)

The final stage of the treatment process is Paschathkarma, where a rehabilitation plan is prescribed, including a nourishing diet, rest, relaxing therapies and lifestyle modifications.

Panchakarma has many benefits, including:

  • Helping you to maintain mental and physical hygiene and balance.
  • Improving your overall health and wellness
  • Strengthening your immune system
  • Slowing down your ageing process
  • Enhancing your strength, energy and mental clarity
  • Helping you to relax deeply
  • Opening blocked channels in the body.
  • Improving the strength of your digestive juices.
  • Rejuvenating your tissues and helping you lose weight.

How an Ayurveda Retreat can help

Not everyone responds to conventional Western methods of treating eczema using topical steroid creams; sometimes, these treatments can have adverse side effects. When administered by practised Ayurvedic doctors in a relaxing retreat environment, such as Sen Wellness Retreats, Ayurvedic natural healing therapies can support your body to rebalance and heal fully without any lingering side effects.

At the Sanctuary, each guest is welcomed into a personalised care plan designed by our in-house Ayurvedic doctor following a private consultation. This individualised plan, tailored to suit your unique constitution and existing imbalances, encompasses a variety of treatments and herbal medicines. Our proficient Ayurvedic therapists, equipped with the expertise to carry out various traditional treatments, are on hand to cater to your specific health requirements, including skin disorders such as eczema.

In the realm of Ayurveda, these therapies and supplements are designed to work in harmony with a balanced diet, the practice of yoga, and meditation. This is the essence of the Sanctuary’s holistic approach that promotes overall well-being, focusing on balancing your entire being. A vital aspect of this approach is the inclusion of specific treatments and routines that help manage and potentially alleviate conditions like eczema. Furthermore, we provide long-term guidance, enabling you to sustain this enhanced health and harmony according to your personal constitution.

Excellent4.8Based on 185 reviews from Claire W.Claire W.1715076485 ★★★★★ I have just completed a 10 day retreat at Sen Wellness and having researched many options, I was drawn to this but it was way beyond my expectations, it was amazing. The yoga by Frances and the monk was incredible, the doctors were kind and helpful and all the staff could not have been more helpful. Special mention to treatments from Tanisha and the manager Sanath who got me out on the beach one evening to see the mother turtles. A dream come true in so many ways, left feeling refreshed,so much healthier in body and mind!! I would highly recommend to anyone who needs a reset.britta B.britta B.1713871962 ★★★★★ I had a wonderful stay and participated in the Signature Retreat. The resort is located in a very beautiful nature reserve. There is a beautiful beach for long nice walks and you also can see turtles.Meditation and Yoga were very also so good as were the ayurvedic treatments. I love it.The Signature Retreat led by Sam is a great, inspiring journey in itself - I can highly recommend.The ayurvedic food was delicious and the staff is great.I hope to go soon again to this wonderful place.Mandy thanks to Sam and his team at Sen Wellness Sanctuary. BrittaKimberly St. O.Kimberly St. O.1712299536 ★★★★★ One of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had in my life. The 10-day retreat is the ultimate in relaxation. They feed you all your meals (delicious homegrown/homemade food), schedule yoga and daily spa treatments and hold special ceremonies throughout the week. The staff go above and beyond to make your experience deep, meaningful and heartfelt. The sanctuary is located in a jungle so be prepared to be immersed in wildlife! Monkeys, reptiles of all kinds, turtles on the beach, eagles/birds and more! I stumbled across this place researching Sri Lanka and it was truly meant to be. The faculties are stunning, comfortable and reasonably priced. Don’t miss an opportunity to come here!Melanie F.Melanie F.1711609773 ★★★★★ A wonderful stay! The staff was so incredible and thoughtful throughout. I left feeling very rejuvenated. Thank you !M U.M U.1710650939 ★★★★★ I had really nice experience at Sen Wellness for 8 nights. Here is in the middle of nature, we can feel that we are a part of nature and it is very natural to live with all kinds of animals and plants. I am now mentally and physically fit.What I really appreciated is food - healthy, everyday different menu, some vegetables that I have never seen… I felt that my feeling of taste transformed through my stay and skin condition and body condition became better.All people here is really kind and peaceful.Yoga teacher, Stefania, is a wonderful teacher, she is really knowledgeable and so kind to care all participants. I had enjoyed conversations with her at breakfast, lunch and dinner.Doctors, therapists are nice, I could ask questions and request whatever I feel comfortable.There are different types of rooms, I experienced the most luxury cabana and eco-cabana with Air Conditioning, too. Luxury cabana was awesome but I liked eco-cabana as well. It was an old facility but authentic, compact and I felt cozy. I was alone in the room so the space was enough for single use. If you wish to have luxury stay, I would recommend you to go for Luxury cabana.Everyone has different purpose and expectations. My purpose was feel nature, have simple life and feel appreciation of life. And it was fulfilled. Thank you so much for all Sen wellness team.sunil D.sunil D.1710516667 ★★★★★ Went to Sen Wellness with family for a retreat, it was a nice spiritual and healthy experience. Fantastic team who were friendly and did everything possible to make it us feel special, great doctors and therapists and of course the daily yoga and one on one interaction with Sam was icing on the cake. Would recommend this to anyone looking for a great mix of spirituality, yoga, treatment and healthy eating. Look forward to my next one at Sen Wellness.Jessica C.Jessica C.1709904229 ★★★★★ Sen Wellness is the perfect place to go to when you are exhausted by life and need a rest to get back to yourself and work through any difficulties you may be experiencing.There’s lovely yoga and meditation classes every day plus a set schedule which is a great way to structure your day of rest alongside tailored Ayurvedic treatments and healthy food.The place is for me perfect but it’s not like a 5 star hotel so if that’s what you are looking for it may be the wrong place for you.If you are lucky you’ll see some turtles as well.Samath and Francis are great managers and will make sure everything goes well.Kumail S.Kumail S.1709739998 ★★★★★ Beautiful experience, beyond my wildest expectations. Would recommend to anyone interested in Ayurveda and healingNeil W.Neil W.1709656423 ★★★★★ I was fortunate to lead a yoga retreat in early February of 2024. Everything was absolutely spectacular. Sen is a very special place with a beautiful energy that is perfect for retreat and healing.What really makes Sen so special are the people. Every single one of the staff members as well as the ayurveda doctors and all the managers were so kind and always trying to make each experience special. The entire team was led by Sanath and Frances and they were both absolutely wonderful. I can't possibly find enough kind words for both of them. Their leadership and warmth really allowed me to lead the retreat in the best way I could and they were always there for me whenever I needed. Thank you!helen W.helen W.1709279369 ★★★★★ Sen wellness is a perfect sanctuary. The Ayurvedic retreat was insane - I loved every minute of it . Thank youElly GElly G1708444914 ★★★★★ Came here for a yoga retreat with our teacher. This is the place to unwind, do yoga, relax and get Ayurvedic treatment. Ayurvedic drs and therapists are so helpful and friendly. Staff are so warm and helpful. Frances is the manager at Sen, a person with a beautiful soul who is very sensitive to our needs and intentions when visiting the sanctuary. Saneth (pardon my spelling) is a very dedicated and hardworking gentleman who made sure that our stay was a pleasant one. Highly recommend Sen Wellness Sanctuary 🙏🏽Heike M.Heike M.1708017780 ★★★★★ I stayed at Sen Wellness Sancutary for the festive retreat 23/24 - for me a 10 days commitment to complete immersion. I enjoyed every bit of it already at the Sanctuary! Now, back home and 40 days later, I am still profiting from the treatments, the experiences I made and my 40-days-practise that I started, as soon as I arrived home.Here is my deepest gratitude for the gifts I received during this retreat: a wonderful place, a kind, supportive, attentive and friendly team, support and grounding in my personal difficult moments, fantastic and soothing Ayurveda treatments (thanks to the doctors & massage therapists - always there with a smile and advice), delicious food, fascinating ceremonies (an unforgettable experience!), a lot of fun & laughter with other group members...Just to name a fiew.The biggest gift is, that I still have all this in my heart, that I can feel the connection to it. And that the practice of pranayama and meditation starts to become a routine! I hope, I can return to this unique place one day.Sally E.Sally E.1707933557 ★★★★★ My stay at Sen Wellness was exhilarating, from the dramatic colours of the sunsets to the naughty monkeys bouncing on the roof of our yoga room then leaping into the jungle. Best of all was watching, after a sunset walk over the wide empty white beach, newly hatched turtles hurtling over the sand to the ocean beyond. Good food, kind smiling staff, excellent and varied company from all over the world at the communal meals, massages, swimming pool, meditation, yoga, it was all pretty faultless and very inspiring.The serene and mesmerising Tseyang from Tibet provided me with a yoga programme I am actually keeping to.Jennifer M.Jennifer M.1707576319 ★★★★★ One of the most relaxing and intriguing stays I’ve ever had. From the moment you walk in to the moment you leave, the hosts and staff anticipate and provide for your every need.The creative Vegan meals, yoga, meditation and daily treatments make this retreat a must-do for anyone who wants to experience an absolute gem.Melbin A.Melbin A.1707565341 ★★★★★ I recently attended a 14-day Ayurveda and Yoga retreat at Sen Wellness Sanctuary, and I can confidently say it was the best decision I made in 2024!The sanctuary is nestled in a truly enchanting environment, providing a perfect blend of calmness and nature. Being located next to Turtle Beach added a unique touch to the overall experience, making it an ideal destination for anyone seeking serenity and relaxation.The staff at Sen Wellness Sanctuary is exceptional. From the moment I arrived, I was greeted with warm smiles, and their hospitality throughout my stay was beyond compare. Special shout-out to Sudheera, Sanath, the Manager, whose dedication to ensuring a seamless experience stood out. Frances,The wellness Manager with her beautiful soul, Tsayang, my Yoga guru, Gopi, my transporter, and the entire team, including Kavindu, Dr. Tarushi, Dr. Udari, Mahil, Madhu, and many more, contributed to making my stay truly memorable.The food was another highlight of my experience. Traditional Sri Lankan dishes, rich in veggies and fruits, were served daily, creating a culinary journey that added to the overall wellness experience.One of the most rewarding aspects of my time at Sen was the opportunity to make new friends from around the world. Connecting with like-minded individuals enhanced the entire retreat experience, and I left with a profound sense of personal evolution.In conclusion, Sen Wellness Sanctuary is more than just a retreat; it's a haven for personal growth and well-being. I completed the program with a genuine feeling of having evolved into a new person. I highly recommend Sen to anyone seeking a transformative and rejuvenating experience.Thank you, Sen Wellness Sanctuary, for the exceptional hospitality. I look forward to returning in the future!js_loader

The Final Word

Eczema can affect the mind as well as the body, causing sufferers to feel even more anxious and stressed, which in turn makes their symptoms worse. Ayurveda aims to provide holistic support in line with individual needs by removing toxins, releasing stress and restoring balance. This, in turn, can radically improve a patient’s quality of life.

In the words of Sen Wellness practitioner Dr Harnika: “Never be ashamed of your skin; it simply means you were stronger than whatever stress or tiredness hurt you. Do not allow your skin to turn you into a person you are not.”

Author

Picture of Sam Kankanamge
Sam Kankanamge

Sam Kankanamge BSc (Hons) Osteo, DPO, Dip.Acu is an exceptional, world renowned healthcare professional, with over 25 years-experience transforming patients’ health.