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  5. What Causes Sallow Skin & How To Manage It?

Do you know that your skin complexion is a reflection of your overall health? Mostly, your skin illness can be an indication of something wrong with your internal health. In the case of sallow skin, your skin appears yellow-tinged and dull.

In this article, let us understand different underlying causes for your skin appearing sallow and how you can address the condition.

Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks

‘’ The most common cause of dull, sallow skin is Anaemia. Liver and kidney pathologies should also be ruled out with blood tests. Pitta Prakriti individuals naturally have a yellowish skin colour in spite of their body physiology. Rakta dhatu (Blood) offers the warm, pink/red appearance of healthy skin. Foods that replenish blood like Pomegranates, Amla, Triphala, Citrus fruits, Manjishtha can help heal the sallow skin. Regular Abhyanga (Massage) stimulates bhrajaka pitta, dispelling sallow appearance of the skin. ‘’

-Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix

What Is Sallow Skin? How Do You Identify It?

Sallow skin is a condition in which your skin loses its natural complexion while appearing unhealthy and dull. While most people mistake sallow skin for ageing skin, the underlying causes for both conditions are different. Your skin may lose suppleness and becomes dull with age, but it becomes sallow when there is an internal imbalance in your body.

Though sallow skin is more noticeable in the face, you may have it elsewhere on your body. To identify the sallow skin, check if your skin has become pale and dull in comparison to your natural skin tone. Sallow skin may have uneven skin tone, which lacks the brightness of normal healthy skin. This, in turn, increases the visibility of other lesions or blemishes present on your skin.

What Does Sallow Skin Look Like?

Redhead woman before and after skin treatment

The variations in skin colour can be different between individuals.

  • Typically, people with pink or fair skin tones may have sallow skin with a yellowish tone.
  • Sallow skin in people with olive or warmer skin tones may appear in brownish tones.
  • People with darker skin tones may notice minimal changes in skin colour or may have uneven skin tone with mild yellow shade.

What Causes Sallow Appearance?

1. Anemia

When the red blood cells don't carry a sufficient amount of oxygen to your other body cells, it leads to anemia. Besides making your body feel lethargic and tired, anaemia can also make your skin pale or sallow [1].

Sometimes, serious underlying health conditions such as autoimmune diseases or kidney disorders can cause anaemia, resulting in sallow skin. Hence, consult a doctor immediately to diagnose if there is any serious internal condition when you have sallow skin.

“Once the underlying ailment is resolved with medical treatments, anaemia as well as the sallow skin symptoms, control naturally,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

2. Vitamin Deficiency

If your diet lacks nutritious foods, it can result in sallow skin over time. It's because your skin cells fail to receive the essential nutrients such as vitamins- A, B, C, D, E and K along with different minerals to stay healthy [2].

3. Smoking

Smoking is one of the most common habits that can speed up the ageing process in your skin. This is because tobacco decreases collagen production [3], which is responsible for keeping your skin firm, supple and healthy.

“Your skin may become extremely dry and dull as smoking can hinder the sufficient supply of oxygen to your skin. This makes your skin appear sallow, wrinkled and dull over time,” says Dr. Zeel.

4. Dehydration

If you do not drink enough water in a day, it leads to extreme dryness in your skin [4]. Also, drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages such as coffee excessively causes dehydration in your body, resulting in dry skin. The dehydrated skin turns sallow over time.

5. Stress

Stress affects your health in several ways. Besides causing conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, stress can also result in sallow skin [5]. When you are under chronic stress, your body releases cortisol hormone, which takes a toll on your skin health.

6. Insufficient Sleep

If you are having sleepless nights consistently, then it can cause sallow skin over time. This is because your skin stops receiving nutrients and oxygen when you have sleep deprivation [6].

Human beings are the only mammals, who delay sleep willingly.

7. Poor Skin Care

Sallow skin can be a result of poor skincare. If you do not have a proper skin care regimen, it will definitely affect your skin health either instantly or over time.

How To Get Rid Of Sallow Skin?

1. Self-Abhyanga

salon therapist healing lying woman with flower in hair doing abhyanga

Massage your sallow skin daily with dosha-balancing Ayurvedic oils based on your skin type. You can apply the oil to your body an hour before going to bath and massage it for a few minutes. This procedure is called ‘Self-Abhyanga’ in Ayurveda.

In general, organic and cold-pressed sesame or coconut oil is used. You can also add a few drops of essential oils such as lavender, neroli or sandalwood oils to the carrier oils and use them for Abhyanga.

2. Eat Healthy Diet

If you are anaemic, then you need to add more iron and vitamin B12 rich foods to your diet.

Include foods such as veggies, dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, nuts, seeds, carrots, broccoli, cereals, berries, etc. that are rich in multiple vitamins and minerals in your everyday diet.

Important Note:

Despite having nutrient-rich food for weeks, if the sallow skin persists, then you should consult your doctor regarding the supplementation needs.

3. Dermatological Procedures

A. Photo Rejuvenation

Broadband light (BBL) and intense pulsed light (IPL) are the two main types of photo-rejuvenation procedures that help in treating sallow skin. In this treatment, your skin is exposed to a broad spectrum of light, which triggers collagen production. Thus, the skin regains its lost elasticity and suppleness while it does not appear sallow.

B. Chemical Peels

Professionals administer lactic acid peels on the sallow skin to eliminate the dead and dry skin cells. This, in turn, promotes the cell turnover in your skin and reduces the sallow complexion.

C. Microdermabrasion

In microdermabrasion [7], a buffing tool is used to strip off the dead cells from your epidermis. This triggers collagen production, which can improve the sallow skin.

Important Note:

If your skin does not feel better even after taking necessary treatments for 4-8 weeks, then you need to see your doctor immediately.

How To Correct Sallow Skin With Makeup?

If you have sallow skin, follow the below steps to correct your skin tone with make-up:

Step1: Begin your make-up by using a rejuvenating serum on your sallow skin. Skin serums that contain peptides and antioxidants can protect your skin throughout the day.

Step2: If you have sallow skin with a yellowish tone, then apply a colour-correcting primer having a purple or lavender tint. If you have sallow skin with a brownish tone, then you may need to choose a colour-correcting primer with an orangy pink, yellow or any other warmer tint, best suited for your skin tone.

Step3: Apply a foundation of a suitable shade evenly on your skin. It's better to use a foundation with SPF protection as it can cut off the whole process of applying sunscreen.

Now, continue with your remaining steps such as adding contours, eye shadow, etc. as per your make-up needs on your colour-corrected sallow skin.

How To Prevent Sallow Skin?

  • Quit smoking habit. You can try cessation products that help to stop smoking gradually. There are several OTC products available that can help smokers quit the habit successfully.
  • Your body needs sufficient water to keep your skin hydrated and moisturized. In general, it is recommended to drink eight glasses of water daily. Also, it is best to reduce the consumption of alcohol and coffee.
  • Manage your stress to maintain healthy skin. Practising meditation, exercising regularly, indulging yourself in a hobby or spending time with people you love are some ways that help you handle stress.
  • To keep your skin healthy, it is recommended to have at least 7-9 hours of undisturbed sleep every night.

Vedix Tip: Maintain a consistent sleep schedule and do not use any electronics before bedtime to have sound sleep.

  • Wash your face twice using a safe and gentle face wash. It prevents your skin pores from clogging with dirt or dead skin.
  • Apply a moisturizer suitable for your skin type generously. It helps to seal the moisture in your skin and keeps it hydrated. While people with dry skin can use creams, people with oily or combination skin must use non-comedogenic lotions.
  • Exfoliate your skin with natural ubtans once a week. This promotes the regeneration process in your skin and keeps it radiant naturally.
  • Never miss using sunscreen daily. It is recommended to prefer sunscreen which has a minimum SPF of 30.
  • Pick your make-up products that are skin-friendly and non-comedogenic. Also, make sure you remove make-up before bedtime every day.

The Last Word

Now you know what could be causing your skin to appear sallow. So, don’t waste any more time and start making needful changes in your skincare as well as lifestyle to achieve healthy skin.

At Vedix, we understand the specific needs of your skin and customize an Ayurvedic skincare regimen that best suits your skin.

Know Your Dosha Now

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