Visarpa: Causes, Types, Treatment, Medicines

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay)
Visarpa is a condition which has often been compared to erysipelas and herpes due to similarity in presentation. Since erysipelas doesn’t have elevated blisters we can rule it out. But most of the types of visarpa mimic erysipelas. In few types of erysipelas we can find symptoms similar to herpes zoster. 

Types of Visarpa

Agneya Visarpa – In this ‘agni dagdhaha iva sphotaha’ i.e. blisters as if burnt by fire (blisters occurring post burning) occur along with associated symptoms which depict high level of inflammation. It is caused by vitiated Vata and Pitta and is associated with fever, vomiting, fainting, diarrhoea, thirst, giddiness, joint pains etc symptoms.

Granthi Visarpa is caused by dual vitiation of kapha and vayu. This contaminates the skin, ligaments, tendons and muscle tissue and form blisters. The blisters are red and painful. The blisters are elongated or small or rounded or hard or stout in appearance. The blisters are in chains and arranged in the form of beads. This visarpa is associated with fever, pain, cough, dyspnoea, vomiting, giddiness, discolouration, fainting etc symptoms.

Kardama Visarpa presents as yellow or red coloured blisters which are unctuous, black, dirty, swollen, heavy, suppurated inwards and hot in nature. Since they are filled with fluids they rupture immediately when touched. They emit foul smell. They are caused by dual vitiation of pitta and kapha and associated with fever, headache, feeling as if body is coated, bone pains, excessive sleep, thirst etc symptoms.

Kshataja Visarpa It is formed due to combined impact of injury and vitiated Vata, rakta and pitta. The blisters resemble that of horse gram in size and shape, has red or blackish brown colour and is associated with fever, pain, burning sensation, diarrhoea, tiredness, vomiting etc symptoms.

These Visarpas closely resembles erysipelas, herpes zoster, blisters due to burns and cutaneous radiation syndrome. This Visarpa is said to be one of the dreadful conditions and difficult to treat. In this perspective we can consider the complicated course of the above said conditions.

Bullous pemphigoid and Epidermolysis bullosa have close resemblance with Kardama Visarpa.

Kshataja visarpa includes blisters occurring due to external causes like Friction and rubbing, chemical exposure, contact dermatitis, exposure to heat, fire and sun, allergic reactions, injuries etc

Treatment principles

Principles of treating Visarpa:
Visarpa vis-à-vis blisters (erysipelas, herpes, dermatitis herpetiformis etc) should be promptly attended by the below said measures –

  • Langhana – fasting or lightening measures (to rectify metabolism, to digest ama or immature essence of digestion in circulation which is toxic to all cells)
  • Rukshana – to remove excess and unnecessary fluidity in the body
  • Virechana – therapeutic purgation for expelling the morbid pitta and reduce the inflammatory process in the body
  • Vamana – therapeutic emesis for expelling the vitiated kapha from the body and to reduce excess kleda or unwanted fluidity and blocks in the body
  • Lepa – application of medicinal pastes to hasten re recovery process and to heal the lesions (blisters)
  • Seka – stream pouring or sprinkling of medicinal fluids over the blisters to heal them
  • Raktamokshana – bloodletting to remove the contaminated blood, also heals infections
  • Avidahi ahara – non-corrosive foods

Panchatwagadi lepam – application of Shatadhauta Ghrita (ghee washed 100 times in water) with Panchavalkala churna i.e. powders of Nyagrodha (Ficus bengalenesis), Udumbara (Ficus glomerata), Ashwatta (Ficus religiosa), Parisha (Thespesia populanea) and Plaksha (Ficus lacor) highly useful in alleviating burning sensation and Agni Visarpa

Nyagrodhadi Lepam – Paste of roots of Nyagrodha (Ficus bengalenesis), Gunja (Abrus precatorius) and Kadali garbha (pulp of plantain stem mixed in shatadhouta ghrita is highly beneficial in Agni visarpa

Shireeshatwagadi lepam – The paste made by mixing the powder of bark of Shireesha (Albizia lebbeck) in Shatadhouta ghrita is beneficial in Kardama Visarpa

Laghupanchamuladi Kwatha – Decoction of 5 lesser roots i.e. Shalaparni (Desmodium gangeticum), Prishniparni (Uraria picta), Brihati (Solanum indicum), Kantakari (Solanum xanthocarpum) and Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris) and Yava valkala (bark of barley) is used for seka (sprinkling) and pana (intake)

Guduchyadi Kashayam
Patoladi kashayam

Bhunimbadi Kwatha / Kashayam – Decoction of Bhunimba (Andrographis paniculata), Vasa (Adhatoda vasica), Katuki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Patola patra (leaves of pointed gourd), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica), Chandana (sandal wood), Nimba twak (bark of neem) is a good remedy for visarpa and visphota.

Effective decoctions for Herpes from Sahasrayogam

1. Visarpahara Kashayam
Ref – Sahasrayogam, Kashaya Prakaranam, 49

a. Patoladi Kashayam

Ingredients Botanical Name Method of using Indications
Snake gourd Trichosanthes dioica The decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh 1. Herpes  
Daruharidra Berberis aristata
Neem Azadirachta indica
Katukarohini Picrorhiza kurrooa
Trayantika Gentiana kurroo
Licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra
Vasa Adhatoda vasica
Musta Cyperus rotundus

b. Mustadi Kashayam

Ingredients Botanical Name Method of using Indications
Musta Cyperus rotundus The decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh 1. Herpes of vata origin  
Neem Azadirachta indica
Snake gourd Trichosanthes dioica
Devadaru Cedrus deodara
Turmeric Curcuma longa
Raisins Vitis vinifera
Bala Sida cordifolia
Ginger Zingiber officinale

c. Trayantadi Kashayam

Ingredients Botanical Name Method of using Indications
Trayanti Gentiana kurroo The decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh 1. Herpes of pitta origin  
Utpala Nymphaea stellata
Dhanvayasa Alhagi camelorum
Coriander Coriandrum sativum
Bhunimba Andrographis paniculata
Ushira Vetiveria zizanioides
Hrivera Pavonia odoraa

d. Shreshtadi Kashayam

Ingredients Botanical Name Method of using Indications
Shreshta Fruits of – Terminalia chebula Terminalia bellerica Emblica officinalis The decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh 1. Herpes of kapha origin  
Neem Azadirachta indica
Snake gourd Trichosanthes dioica
Pippali Piper longum

2. Kulakadi Kashayam
Ref – Sahasrayogam, Parishishta Prakaranam, 80

Ingredients Botanical Name Method of using Indications
Snake gourd Trichosanthes dioica The decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh 1. Herpes with pain 2. Vomiting 3. Burning sensation 4. Nausea 5. Thirst    
Vasa Adhatoda vasica
Kirata Swertia chirata
Neem Azadirachta indica
Katuki Picrorhiza kurrooa
Bibhitaki Terminalia bellirica
Haritaki Terminalia chebula  
Indian Gooseberry Emblica officinalis
Sandalwood Santalum album    
Guggulu Commiphora mukul    

3. Nannaryadi Kashayam
Ref – Sahasrayogam, Parishishta Prakaranam, 81

Ingredients Botanical Name Method of using Indications
Krishna Sariva Hemidesmus indicus The decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh 1. Herpes    
Sandalwood Santalum album
Ushira Vetiveria zizanioides
Licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra
Ambujasya kinjalka / Kamala kesara Stigma of Nelumbo nucifera
Manjishta Rubia cordifolia
Turmeric Curcuma longa
Haritaki Terminalia chebula

4. Chunda Tavidvamadi Kashayam
Ref – Sahasrayogam, Parishishta Prakaranam, 82

Ingredients Botanical Name Method of using Indications
Bhunimba Andrographis paniculata The decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh with rice gruel 1. Herpes    
Punarnava Boerhavia diffusa
Ginger Zingiber officinale
Duralabha Fagonia cretica

5. Trayantyadi Kashayam
Ref – Sahasrayogam, Parishishta Prakaranam, 111
Read more hereTrayantyadi Kashayam – Benefits, Dose, Side Effects And Ingredients
Method to Use – served fresh admixed with ghee

Kusht Visarpa difference

Differentiation of Kushta from Visarpa:
Some Vaidyas are of the opinion that Kushta affects skin whereas Visarpa can be internal, external or both.

Modern correlation

Visarpa can be correlated with Herpes.  It is characterized by suppurative epithelial inflammatory condition. It can be both internal or external.
Some Vaidyas correlated it as Inflammatory suppurative degenrative cancerous skin condition.
Kardama Visarpa is correlated with cancer.
Click to consult Dr Raghuram

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