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[5 min read] How to treat dull skin in primary care

When patients present with lacklustre skin that’s missing that healthy glow, there are many things doctors at the primary care level can do to help them. The options range from simple skincare advice to minimally invasive aesthetic medicine procedures.

For further information on this topic, you may be interested to learn more about the HealthCert Professional Diploma program in Aesthetic Medicine.

We can say the skin looks dull when it looks unhealthy. Such skin often appears pale, dry, and gloomy. However, the problem is usually more than just the appearance. These are all signs the skin is not functioning optimally. Dull skin is missing something and is not afraid to show it.

We first need to determine what causes dull skin.

Dull skin causes

The causes of dull skin usually include one, several, or all of the following factors:

  • Dehydration – Dehydrated skin is not the same as dry skin. It lacks water (humidity) rather than natural oils (sebum). Therefore, we need to fix it from the inside by increasing the daily water intake.
  • The build-up of dead skin cells – The skin sheds off old cells and creates new ones in a natural twenty-eight-day cycle. But, this process is not always smooth enough, leaving a dull-looking layer of dead skin cells on the surface. Exfoliation is the key!
  • Lack of proper skin care – A moisturiser is essential in every skincare routine. A daily dose of hydration might be all the skin needs to regain its radiance.
  • Dryness – Dry and dull skin are almost synonymous. It’s not surprising that the skin loses its glow in a cold climate. However, dry skin is also a skin type. In such cases, heavy and greasy skin care products can help.
  • Ageing – The ageing process deteriorates the skin’s health, function, and appearance. The best response to this is a combination of four essential elements:
  1. Well-balanced diet
  2. Healthy lifestyle
  3. Quality skincare
  4. Aesthetic procedures
  • Smoking – Quitting smoking decreases oxidative stress, helps collagen production, and slows ageing.

How to fix dull skin in primary care

Primary care physicians should educate patients about the causes of dull skin and recommend changes in their diet, lifestyle, and skincare regimen that can bring gradual improvements. However, aesthetic interventions remain the only way to achieve a fast and radically better appearance.

With adequate medical aesthetic training, GPs can offer effective in-office treatments for dull skin. These include:

  • Hyaluronic acid fillers,
  • Chemical peels,
  • Microdermabrasion,
  • Microneedling, and
  • Laser therapy

Hyaluronic acid filler injections are a comprehensive solution for various aesthetic issues, including dull skin. They almost instantly add volume and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, they also boost hydration and promote collagen production over time.

Chemical peels remove the layer of dead cells from the skin’s surface. They also boost the skin’s natural self-regeneration ability.

Microdermabrasion is a different technique that works on the same principle as chemical peels. It removes dead skin cells and superficial skin layers to unlock the skin’s rejuvenating potential.

Micro-needling causes intentional micro-trauma to the skin to provoke the healing response and boost natural collagen and elastin production.

Laser therapy targets different skin layers, depending on the type of device (ablative or non-ablative). As a result, it promotes the production of new skin cells, stimulates collagen growth, tightens the skin, and removes fine lines, wrinkles, sunspots, and other common signs of age-related damage.

– Dr Rosmy De Barros

For further information on this topic, you may be interested in HealthCert’s medical aesthetic training

Read another article like this one: How to treat dark under-eye circles in primary care


  • Eda N, Nakamura N, Inai Y, et al. Changes in the skin characteristics associated with dehydration and rehydration [published online ahead of print, 2022 Mar 3]. Eur J Sport Sci. 2022;1-9. doi:10.1080/17461391.2022.2044914
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  • Schagen SK, Zampeli VA, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1;4(3):298-307. doi: 10.4161/derm.22876. PMID: 23467449; PMCID: PMC3583891.
  • Truchuelo M, Cerdá P, Fernández LF. Chemical Peeling: A Useful Tool in the Office. Peeling químico, una herramienta útil en la consulta. Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2017;108(4):315-322. doi:10.1016/j.ad.2016.09.014


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