Ramadan is a memorable time when we offer more to our communities and work towards a healthier body, as long as there is no limitation to doing so.
Fasting helps to ease and heal most health problems and diseases. Hygienic practitioners have taken fasting as a means of helping the body improve for many decades. Fasting involves abstinence from liquid and solid food for a particular period — the most common being between dawn and dusk — however, there are two other types of fasting. One involves the avoidance of only solid foods; the other, dry fasting, entails abstinence from all foods, liquids and solids for a particular time.
Fasting heals allergic reactions, including hay fever and asthma, as well as eczema and contact dermatitis, which is a kind of skin irritation from contact with a specific object or substance. It has also proved good for detoxification, which is a natural body reaction for neutralising or getting rid of toxins through the body’s organs, gastrointestinal tract, immune system and skin, because when you don’t eat, the body breaks down fat reserves for energy.
Fasting diminishes over-oily and spotty skin and helps your skin look clearer, especially whitening around the eyes, which you’ll not have experienced with any kind of skin products and services, although this appearance is transient. It’s said that fasting reduces the severity of some skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, hives (urticaria), allergic and irritant contact dermatitis, atopic eczema, possibly cancer and all skin ulcers caused by bacteria that are found on normal skin. But, all of these hypotheses have not been proved so far and we will need more time to confirm them.
During fasting, your water intake decreases and your skin’s water demand increases, so we need to nourish it more than usual. If there is no mixing of medications prescribed for skin diseases and fasting hours, and if you have not experienced a worsening in your skin problems, it is considered that fasting can improve your skin health. A number of hygiene practitioners say the amount of water in the blood during fasting reduces the amount of water in the skin, which can lower the skin’s permeability and resistance to bacterial infections.
Therefore, always remember to take a daily shower with lukewarm water, and use high quality moisturiser for the whole body after showering. Also, raise the amount of sunscreen applications you apply since you have more sensitive skin during fasting, and continue your doctor’s recommended skin maintenance advice at the same level as before, or more. Your face washes, tonics and moisturisers should be continued, as well as using a good quality deodorant to relieve heavy body odour.
Keep yourself as hydrated as possible while you break your fast. Heavy dehydration and loss of essential electrolytes, nutrients and vitamins are relatively common side effects of fasting, which can result in vomiting and diarrhoea, especially during long, hot summer days. Do not put regular skin care and protection aside, and maximise the number of times you do this daily since your water intake during the daytime will be limited.
(Dr Hossein Yavari is a Dubai-based specialist dermatologist with Kaya Skin Clinic.)