Kaitlin Menza is fair-skinned and has always been careful when she’s out in the sun, wearing big hats and using lots of sunscreen.
One day she didn’t reapply sunblock and ended up with sunburn that wouldn’t fade. Weeks later, Menza had developed permanent dark patches on her cheeks and forehead that are still visible two years later.
Menza, a 28-year-old contributing editor with MarieClaire.com, wrote about her experience for the magazine.
The Brooklyn-based editor didn’t believe the sunburn was that bad, she wrote in the Aug. 4 article.
“I took the usual steps: cooling Aloe vera gel, extra moisturizer in the morning and at night, and sitting on my hands to keep from picking and peeling … Three weeks later, panic started to bubble up. The sunburn wasn't going away at all,” she wrote. “In August, I was a bridesmaid and had to coat my face in foundation to even try to approximate an even skin tone. This step would soon become a normal part of my morning routine.”
Menza learned that she had melasma, a common disorder that causes discoloration of the skin.
Menza’s dermatologist, Dr. David Colbert, said his patient was an ideal candidate for the condition because she of her fair-skinned Irish complexion, her lack of sunblock that day and her being on a birth control pill.
“To have this damage is really embarrassing. It's your face. It's what people are looking at all day, so it's been really tough,” Menza told ABC News.
There are products on the market to mask melasma damage.
“If you have some more specific dark spots or acne or scarring then you can apply some concealer right on the spots where you have that damage,” Joanna Douglas, Yahoo Beauty’s senior beauty editor, said.
Menza has tried a number of treatments but she’s still stuck with the discoloration.
“I was surprised that it only takes one day, one afternoon, one really bad sunburn to damage your skin,” she said.