Known for its natural healing and spiritual properties, fitkari has recently caught the attention of several countries in the west (Source: Freepik)

Fitkari or alum has been extensively written about in Ayurveda and has been a part of Indian culture for centuries. Known for its natural healing and antimicrobial properties, it has recently caught the attention of several countries in the west as a natural deodorant and antiseptic. 

Dr Swetha Sridhar, assistant professor, Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital explains, “Alum stone, known scientifically as hydrated potassium aluminum sulfate, has a long history of use in traditional medicine and skincare. It is recognised for its astringent and antiseptic properties, primarily due to the aluminum ions it contains.”

So, what can fitkari be used for? 

Dr Sridhar states that fitkari can be used in the following ways to derive the most benefits:

Dental health

Alum can be included as part of dental hygiene products like toothpaste and mouthwash, where it helps reduce gum inflammation and inhibit bacterial growth. 

Natural skincare

The antibacterial properties of alum help fight off acne including blackheads and whiteheads. It can also help heal acne scars. Fitkari functions as an astringent as well, helping tighten the skin’s pores and giving a fresh glow to the skin. 

Natural deodorant 

Due to its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, fitkari makes for a great deodorant especially for the warm summer months in India. It effectively fights odour-producing bacteria and keeps you smelling and feeling fresh all day.

The antibacterial properties of alum help fight off acne including blackheads and whiteheads. (Source: Freepik)

Concerns and cautions in use

Even though fitkari is renowned for its benefits, Dr Sridhar reminds that one should always tread carefully. She asserts that people should keep the following concerns in mind: 

  • Being a natural astringent, alum can lead to skin dryness. Its use can strip the skin of essential oils, leading to excessive dryness, particularly in individuals with sensitive skin or when applied to delicate areas such as the underarms.
  • Routine use on the skin is not universally recommended, especially without prior patch testing, due to the risk of irritation and potential for causing dryness.
  • In sensitive individuals, particularly those with predisposed skin conditions, alum usage may exacerbate dryness and irritation. Additionally, its application on Indian skin types has been noted, in some cases, to lead to pigmentation issues, likely due to irritation or an overreaction of the skin to the drying effects.

Recommendations for use

It's advisable to use alum with caution, says Dr Sridhar, considering its astringent nature. Individuals interested in using fitkari for skincare or health purposes should conduct a patch test to gauge sensitivity and start with diluted applications to minimise potential adverse effects. For those with sensitive skin or existing skin conditions, she advises consulting a dermatologist before incorporating alum into any skincare routine is critical to avoid complications.

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2024-04-15T07:06:01Z dg43tfdfdgfd