Our skin says a lot about us. When we are too hot, our skin becomes sweaty. When too cold, the skin forms goose bumps. When we do not sleep enough or grow too stressed, our skin can become dull.

Imbalances of the Ayurvedic doshas are no different and show up on our skin as well. Discerning which one of the three doshas (vata, pitta or kapha) is out of balance is an important first step in deciding how to bring the skin back into balance. Here are some signs to help you spot pitta skin conditions.

How To Spot Pitta Skin Conditions

1) Diffuse redness in the skin

Pitta imbalance leads to increased blood flow and inflammation in the skin. One example of pitta imbalance is a sunburn. The skin is infused with too much pitta from sunlight leading to redness, pain, and very sensitive skin.

Another example is psoriasis. With psoriasis the lesions can become very red in appearance which is indicative of inflammation and is a sign of pitta imbalance.

2) Sensitive skin

A pitta imbalance causes sensitive skin that is easily irritated and inflamed. In some people, this leads to constantly irritated skin. People with sensitive skin find it hard to use many skin products as their skin is easily irritated by many ingredients. Western medicine has termed this condition Sensitive Skin Syndrome, [1]. It can be a highly frustrating condition that is challenging to diagnose.

In Ayurveda, skin that is quick to react and become inflamed is considered to have a pitta imbalance. Research studies have uncovered a biochemical basis for this Ayurvedic knowledge. People with sensitive skin have higher levels of a skin protein known as the transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV1). [2] The TRPV1 protein is activated by spicy foods, heat and temperature changes (all three are pitta increasing factors). It leads to symptoms of pain, inflammation, and itching that is typically seen in sensitive skin.

3) Pimples

Pimples are a reflection of a pitta imbalance and include both red pimples and pus-filled pimples. Both of these can be seen in conditions such as acne and rosacea. With rosacea, the triggers are frequently pitta-increasing inputs such as sunlight, heat, and spicy foods.

4) Hives

Hives are red swollen bumps that appear on the skin and occur for a variety of reasons. These bumps lead to intense itching and shift quickly on the skin. Hives can be triggered by many factors, but most are pitta increasing such as heat and sunlight. [3]

5) Oiliness with irritation

Oily skin can be a reflection of either kapha or pitta imbalances. The oily skin in pitta imbalances will be more red and irritated. Kapha imbalanced oily skin does not have as much irritation along with the oiliness. An example of pitta related oily skin, that has redness and irritation, is seborrheic dermatitis (also know as facial and scalp dandruff). This causes an oily buildup of scales on both the scalp and on the face (such as the eyebrows and the sides of the nose).

6) Itching with redness

Itching is classically related to kapha imbalance. However, when there is redness and inflammation associated with the itching, it is a sign of a pitta imbalance. One example of this is atopic dermatitis, colloquially known as eczema, where the inflammation can lead to intense itching.

Pitta-related conditions can be easy to spot once you become familiar with them. Those with a pitta prakruti (a person’s natural state) are more likely to develop a vikruti (a person’s imbalanced state) in pitta. Understanding a person’s prakruti can offer some clues as to how easily his or her skin may become unbalanced in pitta.

There are many techniques and products to help reduce pitta. For help in balancing your skin, you should consult an Ayurvedic practitioner. The first step is to understand when your skin is in need of a pitta balancing intervention to maintain skin harmony and wellness.

References cited:

1. Lev-Tov H, Maibach HI. The sensitive skin syndrome. Indian J Dermatol.2012;57(6):419-423; PMID: 23248357.
2. Ehnis-Perez A, Torres-Alvarez B, Cortes-Garcia D, et al. Relationship between transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 expression and the intensity of sensitive skin symptoms. J Cosmet Dermatol.2015PMID:26695734.
3. Abajian M, Schoepke N, Altrichter S, et al. Physical urticarias and cholinergic urticaria. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am.2014;34(1):73-88; PMID: 24262690.

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