According to present day medicine’s understanding, Ichthyosis is a genetic skin disorder that causes dead skin cells to build up in thick, dry scales on the skin’s surface, like that of fish scale. ‘Ichthy’ in latin means fish, so is the name fish skin disease. These scales may be present from birth, may disappear for long to come back again in later years of life. Ichthyosis affects people of all ages, races and gender.
What is Ichthyosis in Ayurveda?
Ichthyosis can be correlated with ayurvedic skin disorder Eka Kushtha. It is one of condition of skin disease out of 11 types of skin disorders mentioned under the title of Kshudra Kushtha (Skin lesions) in classical ayurvedic text. In Eka Kushtha condition, skin resembles like that of fish skin and it spreads on the larger area of the skin and mostly there is absence of sweating on affected part. According Ayurveda this disease is mainly due to imbalance in Vata and Kapha.
Signs and Symptoms of Ichthyosis
- Rough and scaly skin are the common symptoms.
Treatment of Ichthyosis with Ayurveda
The main goal of ayurvedic treatment is to moisturize the skin and to correct exfoliation process of the skin. Ayurveda also suggest b, so the process of skin formation gets better.
Snehan and Swedan (Oilination and Steam)
Internal Oilination is needed to correct the imbalance of Vata and Kapha. Medicated ghee processed with various herbs are used to correct the metabolism and to help soften the skin. They can be applied externally as well. Indukanta Ghritam, Dadimadi Ghritam, Tiktaka Ghritam, Kalyanaka Ghritam, Mahakalyanaka Ghritam, Guggulutiktakaghritam are used for oral intake to achieve the target of correcting metabolism and to soften skin.
Coconut oil can be suggested as part of diet to moisturize the skin. Coconut oil can be used for cooking as well. For external Oilination different kind of oils are used. Most used oil are Dhanwantaram Tailam, Ayyappalakera Tailam Pamanthaka Tailam, Panchavalkadi Tailam.
Vamana (Medicated emesis)
Vamana is the best panchakarma treatment to balance Kapha dosha. It removes ama-toxins from the stomach. Vamana can be done by using herbs like Patol, Nimba, Vasa and Yashtimadhu.
Virechana (Medicated purgation)
Ichthyosis requires regular removal of bio-toxins accumulated in the body. Bio toxins (ama) trapped inside of body tissues (dhatu) with time starts to disturb functions and structure of normal tissues. Accumulated bio toxins cause to deepen localization of disease and responsible for spreading of the disease in the body.
Internal oilination and steam bath helps to push accumulated bio toxins from body tissues to enter in main body stream and further to go out of body through medicated purgation method. This is one of method of purification of body known as virechna.
Raktmokshan is an Ayurveda method used to draw out a certain amount of toxic blood from the body. Blood is most predominant body tissue that got affected in the disease process. This method helps in detoxifying the blood directly without any involvement of digestive process.
By passing of correcting digestive process in treatment, helps to shorten recovery period. Results are quick and long lasting. It is a kind of short surgery to remove the affected part with elimination of root cause of disease. Most of time leech is used to suck out the impure blood from the affected area. There are other methods used to drain out blood from body, for example to make superficial cuts on the skin, to puncture superficial veins etc.
Role of anxiety or stress plays important role in skin disease. Pouring medicated oils or decoctions on the forehead is the relaxing technique known as shirodhara. Shirodhara has been used to tranquil mind in order to restore normal body function. Shirodhara also helps fight depression and other emotional issues occurring due to long standing disease process. Shirodhara also reduces the dryness of skin.
Shirodhara done with the use of medicated buttermilk known as Takradhara. Takradhara is a procedure of pouring medicated buttermilk over the forehead of the patient, that helps to balance kapha dosha involved in disease process. Takradhara with medicated herbs like Sariva and Musta helps to soften the skin and help to correct metabolism.
Basti (Medicated enema)
According to Ayurveda, Basti is the best treatment to balance Vata dosha. Medicated ghee or oils can be given as Anuvasan (Oil enema) to treat the underlying pathogenesis of ichthyosis. Dhanvantaram Mezhukupakam is useful for reducing skin dryness.
Ayurveda Herbs used in treatment of Ichthyosis
Sariva (Hemidismus indica)
Sariva is used in chronic skin conditions, inflammations and autoimmune diseases. It ‘cleans’ the blood, stops itching and reduces suppuration. Sweet bitter taste and Snigdha and guru properties help to fight dryness better and the underlying pathogenesis. Dry massage with Sariva powder along with Yashtimadhu (Glycerhiza glabra) and Triphala can help exfoliate the dead skin and help softening the skin.
Bhringaraj (Eclipta alba)
Bhrugraj is hot in potency, pungent in taste so it is useful in disorders induced due to Kapha and Vata. Instead of provoking Pitta it corrects metabolism. It is good for skin and to remove chronic toxins from the body if used for long time. It is a good blood purifier.
Kutaki (Picrorhiza kurro)
Kutaki is bitter in taste, increases appetite, liver stimulant and cholagogue. It is one of the good medicines for stimulating liver function and in large doses acts as purgative to detoxify the body. Its main action is on blood and bile. Thus, it regulates the excess fire not to over burn the skin, thus helps in condition of ichthyosis.
Kumari (Aloe Vera)
Can be used locally or internally. When used topically for external application on the skin, aloe vera reduces inflammation and helps as moisturizer. It also provides cooling effect to the skin, decrease burning, redness of the skin, itching and discomfort. When taken internally it is laxative and helps reduce get rid of the toxins which causes inflammation. It is good for immune system.