As fall hits, my skin is getting dry. No Matter how much water and oil I drink and eat, I am finding I still need more lubrication on my skin. Specifically, my ankles, knees and elbows are getting dry and even itchy. Per first trimester Ayurvedic recommendations I have avoided abhyanga for the last three months, but this dryness is a huge reminder that I am ready to bring it back. While dry skin isn't a huge deal, it's kind of a pain in the butt. So what is going on? From an Ayurvedic perspective, dry skin has several causes, too many to go into in detail here. However, we do know that when the liver has to process an increased hormonal load it can get overworked and cause the skin to be itchy. We also know that extra sweating and decreased bowel function can cause the skin to have to work harder to eliminate toxins. I could go on forever, but instead I will just list some of the suggestions from Dr. Lad and Dr. Aviva Romm. I have already been incorporating the diet and hydration and movement piece, but I am certainly going to make up a nice mixture of cocoa butter and coconut oil and make abhyanga part of my life again. Let me know what works for you! With Love, Kerry
Tips for Dry Itchy Skin
1) Exfoliate: Try cleaning your skin with no soap, just a cloth to exfoliate. You can use a loofah or fine salt or sugar scrub to gently to stimulate circulation and clean away dead cells (don't scrub vigorously in pregnancy, just gently)
2) Get moving: Daily exercise improves circulation, which among other things can improve bowel function and lesson the burden of accumulated wastes on your body.
3) Eat Well: Lots of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains with minimal processed, fried or foods high in saturated fat.
4) Drink Well: At least half a gallon a day!
5) Essential fatty acids: A combo of 1500 milligrams of omega-3 acids daily (Directly from Dr. Romm in The Natural Pregnancy Book)
6) Cocoa/Shea/Coconut: Rub cocoa butter, coconut oil or shea on your dry skin. Try mixing either cocoa and coconut or shea and coconut together. Oh and by the way, when I asked Sunny about her favorite belly butter for pregnancy, she highly endorsed How Now Brown Cacao and Butter Me Up Body Butter by Simply Divine Botanicals. She uses these to prevent stretch marks and bring skin comfort in her clients and used them herself in pregnancy.
7) Calendula oil: Can be helpful to reduce itching and irritation.
8) Reduce Stress
9) Light Abhyanga: See Instructions below
For those familiar with the practice, the major difference from normal abhyanga application, is that we only want to spread a light coat over the body, aka DO NOT massage the oil in.
For those who don't remember, we have included some instructions below.
Abhyanga in 2nd and 3rd trimesters of Pregnancy
- Follow the directions below, only DO NOT massage the oil in, simply spread it over your skin.
- Allow the oil to soak in, and follow with a warm shower.
- Do not do if there is any sign that the pregnancy is threatened in any way
- Not recommended for the first trimester
- Put about ½ cup oil in an 8 oz. glass bottle. Make sure the oil smells fresh and isn’t rancid.
- Place the bottle of oil in a pan of hot water until the oil is warm.
- Sit or stand in a warm room, on an older towel (one you don’t mind ruining with oil accumulation). Make sure you’re protected from drafts (turn on a space heater if needed).
- Apply the oil to your entire body, and use a generous amount – 1/4-1/2 cup.
- Gently spread oil over the body.
- Give a little extra time and attention to applying the oil into your scalp, ears and feet, at least once a week.
- Apply oil to the crown of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes. Put a couple drops of warm oil on the tip of your little finger and apply to the opening of the ear canal. (If there is any current or chronic discomfort in the ears don’t do this without the recommendation of your health care practitioner).
- Enjoy a very warm bath or shower. You can use a mild soap on the “strategic” areas, but it’s best not to soap the oil off your skin. Enough will soak in and then rinse off that you shouldn’t need to use soap.
- When you get out of the bath, towel dry. Keep a special towel for drying off after your Abhyanga because it can eventually get ruined, due to the accumulation of oil.
- Put on a pair of cotton socks to protect your floors/carpets from the residual oil on your feet.
Clean-up and Maintenance Oil can accumulate in your tub and drain over time. A couple of times each month, pour approx. ¼ cup dish soap into the drain, then pour 2-3 cups of boiling water into the drain. Let sit for 15 min. Run hot water down the drain for a couple of minutes to flush out the residue. Baking soda can be helpful as well. For laundering oily towels, add ¼ cup grease-cutting dish soap along with your regular laundry detergent. Let sit in very hot water for at least 30 minutes, then wash. You may need to repeat this. Experiment as needed. Caution: do not dry oily towels in a hot dryer as they are easily combustible and may catch fire. Oil towels stored together can build up internal heat in warm environments to the point of catching fire. Be sure to store them in well-ventilated, cool areas. Never store them in your vehicle trunk.
Contraindications for Abhyanga:
- After eating and if there’s indigestion
- Acute conditions such as fever, chills, common cold, diarrhea, flu
- Chronic high systemic ama. This can show as a heavily coated tongue.
- Immediately after taking emetics or purgatives
- Under a doctor’s care for medical condition
- During pregnancy without consulting health care practitioner or in threatened miscarriage
- During menstrual cycle
- Infected or open lesions
- Edema (swelling)
- Blood clots or bleeding disorders
- Extreme emotions
- Acute hypoglycemia
- Insulin-dependent diabetes
- During chemo therapy
References: Welch, Dr. Claudia. (2009). http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/ayurveda/abhyanga.html Lad, Vasant. (2005) “Abhyanga: Ayurvedic Oil Massage”