Sallow Skin 101: What it is, Causes, Treatment & Care

By Skin & Hair Academy | January 12, 2023
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Do you look at yourself in the mirror and wonder, ” why does my skin look so pale and unhealthy?” As you age, your skin loses elasticity and glow, making your skin look dull and lifeless. Fine lines, sagging skin, and wrinkles are common signs of skin ageing, but one least common sign is sallow skin. If this is a new term for you and you are concerned about your skin losing its charm, this blog is for you.

In this blog, we will discuss sallow skin causes, prevention tips, and treatment methods.

What is sallow skin?

Sallow skin occurs when your body’s melanin production (the pigment responsible for producing a healthy tan) decreases. This causes your skin to lose its natural colour and become pale or even yellow. In addition to making your skin look pale, sallow skin can make you look tired and unhealthy.

This condition can affect any body part, including the face, hands and feet. It’s usually caused by an underlying medical condition or medication side effects rather than being cosmetic.

What causes sallow skin?

A lack of oxygen in your body causes sallow skin. When we breathe in the fresh air, it contains oxygen which gets absorbed into our bloodstream through our lungs. This extra oxygen helps us digest food properly and keeps our bodies healthy and active all day. But we tend to breathe less fresh air when we stay indoors for long periods or sleep at night with closed windows and doors. Other factors that contribute to sallow skin include:

  • Sun exposure

    UV rays from the sun can cause you to develop uneven pigmentation on your face and neck. They also make your complexion look duller and older than it is.

  • Dehydration

    Insufficient water content in the body causes the body’s tissues to shrink, making them look paler, and giving you sallow skin. Water is essential for maintaining the healthy texture of the body tissues; therefore, when there is a lack of water, the tissues become dry and flaky, giving sallow-looking skin.

  • Hormonal imbalance

    Hormonal changes during pregnancy or menstruation can cause sallow skin as they affect melanin production. Similarly, stress and fatigue can also contribute to this condition.

  • Poor nutrition

    A diet high in refined carbohydrates may increase insulin levels in the body, which leads to excess sugar being stored as fat in the body tissues and eventually results in yellowish skin discolouration.

  • Excess alcohol consumption

    Alcohol interferes with liver function and increases your risk for liver damage which can cause jaundice of the skin and internal organs over time.

Besides the above causes, smoking, vitamin deficiency, and specific illness and medication can also cause sallow skin.

How can it be prevented?

Sallow skin can be prevented by avoiding alcohol consumption and eating healthily. A diet rich in greens, fruits and vegetables will help restore your complexion to its natural glow. You should also sleep at least seven hours per night to allow your body time to rest and repair itself. Besides eating right and having plenty of rest, here are some other ways to prevent sallow skin:

  • Cleansing your face regularly with an exfoliator such as a scrub or washcloth can help keep your face free of dead skin cells blocking circulation around your nose and mouth area. This will help improve your overall appearance.
  • Sunscreen protects against harmful UV rays and helps prevent premature skin ageing. Applying sunscreen every morning before heading out into the sun can help reduce UV damage on your face over time, which could help improve its overall appearance. If you’ve been using the same product for years, it may be time to switch and try a new one.
  1. When to see a dermatologist?

    If you’re concerned about your skin, see a dermatologist if:

    1. You have sallow skin that’s not improving with over-the-counter treatments. You may have a rare skin condition.
    2. You have sallow skin caused by an infection, such as acne or rosacea. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics that won’t harm your skin.
    3. Your sallow skin is associated with other symptoms, such as fever or joint pain. This may indicate that you have a systemic disease.

  2. Can Sallow Skin be treated?

    Yes, sallow skin can be treated. However, sallow skin doesn’t require treatment unless the underlying cause needs treatment. In most cases, you’ll need to address the underlying cause of your sallow complexion before it improves. See your doctor for treatment options if you’re concerned about sallow skin caused by an underlying medical condition.

  3. Don’t wallow in sallow. Visit a dermatologist!

    Several treatments are available for sallow skin, so it doesn’t have to be a dead end. If you’re concerned about your skin, talk to a dermatologist or other medical professional about what’s causing the issue and what you can do about it. To learn more about such skin conditions and connect with a dermatologist near you, visit the Skin and Hair Academy.

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