The skin is a complicated structure with many functions.It is commonly known that there are three primary layers of skin on a human body.
Epidermis: outermost layer of skin that provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone.
Dermis: contains tough connective tissue, sweat glands and hair follicles.
Hypodermis or Subcutaneous: made up of fat and connective tissues.
According to Acharya Sushruta in Ayurveda the skin has seven distinct layers, each with its own structure and function, providing support to the layers above it. The skin as a whole is able to perform its overall functions effectively when all the layers and healthy and balanced.
Layers of the Skin:
As the outermost layer, it is the source of complexion and reflects the quality of the Rasa Dhatu (primary nutrient fluids) in our body. This indicates any inner health or disorder that we may have and whether the body’s physiology as a whole is balanced or imbalanced. Devoid of its own colour, it reflects the colours of inner layers and the aura of the individual. When affected, pimples, acne, dandruff etc arise on the body. It resembles the colour of molton iron.
As the second layer, Lohita supports the outermost layer and indicates the quality of Rakhta Dhatu (blood). Any changes or impurities on this layer affects the Avabhasini layer and can cause moles, dark circles or black pigmentation of the skin when impure.
As the third layer, it is white and provides balance to skin colour, lightening the darker colours of the inner layers. When impaired by doshas, it can cause diseases like eczema, allergic rashes etc.
As the fourth layer, Tamra nurtures the upper layers of the skin and supports the immune system. It helps the skin perform its function of being a barrier. Copper coloured, dosha of this layer causes skin infections.
All sensations and feelings lie in this fifth layer which connects the skin to the rest of the body. Dosha of this layer can cause diseases like herpes.
This layer supports healing and regeneration. Imbalance in this layer retards healing and the disappearance of scars over time and can cause cancer, tumors etc.
As the innermost layer of the skin, Mamsadhara is the platform for the skin’s stability and firmness. When affected by doshas, it can cause abscesses or fistulas.
Ayurvedic Perspective on Skin Health:
A number of factors determine skin health and youthfulness. These include proper moisture balance (Kapha in balance), effective functioning of the metabolic mechanisms that coordinate all the various chemical and hormonal reactions of the skin (Pitta in balance), and efficient circulation of blood and nutrients to the different layers of the skin (Vata in balance).
Furthermore, the health of three types of body tissue are especially reflected in the skin: nutritional fluid, blood and muscle. The nutrient fluid “feeds” all of the body’s tissues and keeps the skin healthy; blood is associated with liver function and purifies the skin; and muscle provides skin firmness.
We have to keep all these skin layers healthy by balancing doshas. We can balance our doshas by following proper ahara and Vihara (diet and life style modifications) .This makes our skin healthy.
Drink plenty of fresh clean water to help eliminate body wastes and toxins. It also keeps constipation at bay.
Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables in major portion of your diet. Dark green and orange vegetables and fruits have antioxidants and also possess cancer fighting properties.
Lack of sleep causes dark circles and diminishes the glow of your skin. Aim for 7-8 hours to keep the skin healthy and glowing.
A brisk walk for 45 minutes keeps the skin healthy by improving blood circulation and eliminating toxins. Lack of exercise leads to dull looking skin.
Avoid any form of tobacco, alcohol or drugs which can make the skin look lifeless and unattractive.
Find ways to handle stress that can cause dark circles, loss of complexion and cause the skin to age. Try out yoga, meditation or incorporate some deep relaxation technique into your daily lifestyle.
And lastly, avoid sweets, chocolate, junk food, deep fried, oily and spicy food.