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By Nadia Marshall

Since I was a teenager I’ve suffered from rough skin on my upper arms... a little genetic condition known as keratosis pilaris.

Keratosis pilaris occurs when the human body produces excess keratin (a natural protein in the skin) that then surrounds and entraps the hair follicles causing the formation of hard plugs.

There is no known treatment for this condition despite the fact it is very common, affecting 40-50% of adults and 50-80% of teenagers, particularly females! (If only I’d known that as a teenager, I might not have been quite so self-conscious about!)

But I was pretty lucky really. My keratosis never came with inflammation and redness.... only roughness. And mine has always been limited to my upper arms while some poor souls can get it all over their bodies. To give you a better idea, my style of keratosis used to look a little bit like this (note: image is from google, this is not my arm).

In my longing for smooth, bump-free skin, I used to scrub the hell out of my arms with various forms of loofa and skin brushes in the hope that I’d remove the keratin plugs and set my hair follicles free. But it never worked.

The bumps did not leave me until my late twenties when I discovered Ayurveda and began regular self-massage or abhyanga with warm oils. At the time I wasn’t really sure why it worked, but it worked and for the first time since puberty, I had reasonably smooth arms!

Since moving to Northern NSW I’ve been rather slack with my self-massage. It’s pretty humid so you don’t feel like you need it and I’m in the sun at the beach everyday so don’t want to cook like a oil-basted chicken! But ever so slowly, my bumps have returned.

I really noticed them at the end of this winter. And, just like a forgetful lab rat, I dutifully began scrubbing myself with loofa to try and smooth them out again! It still didn’t work. I then gave myself three self-abhyangas over two weeks and just like that, they were about 90% better!

The moral to this little story is the Ayurvedic law of LIKE INCREASES LIKE. If you have rough skin, do not apply more of the rough quality to your skin! Instead, apply the smooth quality in the form of warm oils like almond, sesame or coconut, depending on your constitution and the season. SMOOTH increases SMOOTH!

Thought I’d share that little lesson with y’all!


Nadia xx


Agni - the digestive fire.

Ama or Aama - undigested food waste, toxins.

Ojas- the foundation of our immune system and longevity.

Dhatus - the tissues of the body.

Srotas - the channels of the body.

Vata - the air/ether

intelligence in the body.

Pitta- the fire/water

intelligence in the body.

Kapha- the water/earth intelligence in the body.

Sattva- the quality of purity, intelligence, peace and love.

Rajas- the quality of

turbulence and activity.

Tamas- the quality of

dullness, darkness and inertia.

Rasa - the taste of a food (Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, Astringent)

Virya - second level of digestion (either Heating or Cooling)

Vipaka - third level of digestion, the deep taste of a food (can be Sweet, Sour or Pungent)

Prabhav - the 'special effect' of a food or herb/spice

Rasa - also the name for plasma tissue

Rakta - blood tissue

Mamsa - muscle tissue

Meda - fat tissue

Asthi - bone tissue

Majja - nerve & bone marrow tissue

Shukra - sexual reproductive tissue

The Antidote To Rough Skin

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