With the unsparing sun at its harshest, summer heat does more harm than good. Ayurveda says summer is the season when pitta dosha — responsible for all kinds of transformations, including digestion of food, to energy generation — is particularly aggravated.
What is prickly heat?
It is natural for the body to sweat to cool off the system when the external temperature is soaring. But for a few of us, trouble starts when the sweat glands get blocked, leading to prickly heat. Dead skin cells and bacteria accumulate on the skin surface and block the sweat glands. The sweat then seeps into nearby tissues causing tiny pockets of skin to get inflamed. When these burst and release the sweat, you feel a stinging, prickling sensation, which lasts for a couple of days. If left untreated, prickly heat can lead to skin infections.
Treat it with food
Natural and traditional food items hold miraculous properties to prevent and heal ailments. Here are some you can include in your diet:
Watermelon: The best fruit to hydrate the body, it has more than 90 per cent water content and is rich in Vitamins A and C and antioxidants too. The white part of the fruit, which we unknowingly discard, contains most of the nutrients. These nutrients help speed up wound healing that usually happens when heat boils burst. Serve watermelon sherbet with a few drops of mint juice to fight heat stroke.
Citrus fruits: If you are prone to heat boils, drink lots of juices, especially of citrus fruits. Vitamin C and citrus bioflavonoids have antioxidant properties that keep sweat glands healthy.
Jackfruit: Also called the treat of summer, this potassium-rich fruit helps maintain the water and salt balance of the body. An infusion of jackfruit root can also treat a number of skin ailments including prickly heat and rashes.
Coconut water: The best natural alternative to Oral Rehydration Solution, coconut water contains all the nutrients in just the right balance. It cools the body naturally, rehydrates and simultaneously replenishes the nutrients lost while sweating.
Buttermilk: Buttermilk differs from milk as it promotes cooling of the system, and prevents heat build-up, which can cause boils.
Raw mangoes: Aam ka panna, is an ideal summer drink. Simply boil the raw mangoes with raw sugar till it is pulpy. Strain and refrigerate. The antioxidants and beta carotene prevent heat boils from appearing on the skin.
Bitter gourd (karela): Bitter gourd is an astringent vegetable. Drink a cup of karela juice mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice on an empty stomach in the morning to prevent heat boils.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a Mumbai-based nutritionist.