Skin Discolouration and Dull Skin

What is dull skin?

Dull skin looks greyish and tired and is lacking a healthy glow. What causes it?

  • Age - Blood capillaries become fewer in number and cellular renewal occurs at a slower rate as you get older
  • The environment - Pollution causes dull skin, as does a change in climate and season (i.e. skin looks more dull in winter)
  • Make up - Removal or failure to do so can lead to a build up in dead skin cells in the outer skin layer
  • Dehydration - If you sleep in an overheated room, the body and the skin become dehydrated
  • Food - The foods we consume will have an effect on our skin; we should opt for foods that contain Vitamin C, iron and calcium amongst other things
  • Smoking - It makes your skin dull and wrinkled. Smoking can be as bad as sun damage and the two together are a major cause of skin damage

Treatment

How do I prevent it?

  • Drink plenty of water - Increase your water intake if you are exercising, sweating in a hot climate and if you are taking certain medications. For the skin, you just need enough to keep hydrated. Skin turgor is affected by the fluid in your skin and also the quality of your skin. It is not, however, affected by the amount of water you drink. The skin moisture and hydration is totally dependent on the skin barrier
  • Eat healthily
  • Always remove your make-up
  • Use a daily sun protector
  • Once weekly use an exfoliator to remove the build up of dead skin cells on your skin

What is skin discolouration and what causes it?

As the skin ages and sunlight damages the skin, sunspots (known medically as solar lentigo), which are flat, brown, darker type of freckles, will appear on sun exposed skin such as the face, neck, chest and the backs of the hands. These are caused by an increase in melanin production. It is therefore vital to always protect from the sun and wear sunscreen. When skin is exposed to the sun, it defends itself by making pigment to help protect the skin, which may become patchy and blotchy. In addition people with darker skin colours may develop increased and irregular pigmentation on their face particularly if they are women.

Skin discolouration may be associated with pregnancy, or the oral contraceptive pillwhen it is known as melasma, and affects the cheeks and upper lip frequently. Other problems that lead to pigmentation include healing following acne or scars. Skin lightening programmes are frequently required for these often disfiguring problems. There is a quest in many people with olive and darker skin types to lighten their skin. This has to be a personal decision and may be frowned upon by some. Age spots can appear in your 20's and 30's - they are a sign of sun-damaged skin not old age!

How is skin discolouration treated?

  • Treatment programmes for skin lightening should always include selected topical creams. This would combine a daily protective cream that contains at least an SPF15 sunscreen with a broad spectrum UVA protection. In addition this cream would ideally contain active combinations of antioxidants as well as retinoids to increase cell turnover providing protection and lightening.
  • The long-term control of skin discolouration requires a combination of protection with sunscreens, repair with skin lightening products (that can be either non-prescription or prescription) and the use of lasers and lights such as Fraxel laser, intense pulse lights and pigment specific laser such as the Q-switched Ruby laser.
  • Stop smoking all together. It is not enough just to cut down.

How is skin discolouration prevented? For a gentler everyday solution to age spots and dull skin use an SPF moisturiser every morning.