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Skin Care and Diseases

Brown Patches on Cheeks

08/19/2011

Question:

I have a skin problem over the cheeks which I developed for the last 2-3 years. It all started while I went for the Everest Base Camp trek. Initially it appeared as sun burn and I thought it would go after few days. But in the next few weeks the patch got a bit bigger and brown in color. I visited a dermatologist in Nepal who gave me few steroid ointments. I tried those medications without any benefit. I think the patches are "Melasma", how do you think should I proceed?

Answer:

The brown pigmentation on your face may be post inflammatory hyperpigmentation which could have been caused by the severe sunburn. The brown discoloration may also be melasma which is skin condition that can occur on the cheeks, face and chin. Women who are pregnant, on birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy and other drugs, are particularly at risk with sun exposure. Melasma is a benign condition but can be cosmetically concerning.

I would recommend that you see a dermatology expert to evaluate your skin and discuss possible treatment options including topical therapy, dermabrasion, laser and lights devices which MAY be helpful in treating treating melasma and abnormal pigmentation. Avoiding sun exposure and use of sun screens is very important in preventing further pigmentation, as well as reducing your risk for skin cancer and photoaging. I hope your trek up Mount Everest was great!

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Response by:

Margaret A Bobonich, DNP, FNP-C, DCNP, FAANP Margaret A Bobonich, DNP, FNP-C, DCNP, FAANP
Instructor of Dermatology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University