Discolouration of skin is usually a temporary change caused by an alteration in blood flow: too little makes the skin go pale, too much makes it go red. Physiological causes such as embarrassment and excess heat need to be balanced against pathological causes such as rashes. People may go a slight greenish hue in association with motion sickness. Brown discoloration may occur through changes in oestrogen levels and may be noted during pregnancy or the menopause. The latter are often known as liver spots but have nothing to do with the functioning of the liver.

Certain metabolic disease processes may alter the skin colour in a more permanent manner. An excess of iron may stain the skin brown and jaundice may cause yellowing.

Tinea nigra

This condition, also known as pityriasis nigra, which is common in the East and the Americas and is characterized by a black or dark brown

ADULT colouration predominantly on the trunk, neck or palms. It is created by a fungal infection and specific antifungal creams are needed to destroy it.

Tinea versicolor

This is a chronic superficial fungal infection of the skin, which is caused either by a fungus known as Trichophyton or Malassezia. These fungae cause smooth-edged, usually round or oval lesions of pale skin. The fungus affects or destroys melanocytes, which colour the skin, and creates pale lesions. It is usually transmitted from towels or by skin contact and is common in the Mediterranean and west-coast beaches of America.


Apply a selenium-containing shampoo to the lesions three nights in a row. Wash off in the morning. At any suggestion of an irritation, wash the shampoo off and discuss other treatments with a complementary medical practitioner or physician.

Take selenium – 20mg per foot of height in one dose with the evening meal.