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Skin Care and Diseases

Brown spot on left arm and torso.

01/28/2004

Question:

I`m concern with my teen daughter. A while ago I notice a brown spot located in her right arm close to her arm pit. This brown spot is the size of a dime. However, now she brought to my attention that she has two other brown spots, one on her right and one on her left torso. They are not like other patients e-mail that I read previously where they are first tiny red and than turn brown. No not in this cases the brown spot just appeared first in her arm and months later now in her torso. Could this be a skin problem or anything serious? I do not know if I should make an appointment first with her doctor or should I go directly to a dermatalogist? Thank you for your time.

Answer:

In the age group that you describe the most common cause of small brown spots that begin to appear over time are tinea versicolor. Genetic disorders such as neurofibromatosis usually have spots from earliest childhood. My assumption would be that these are probably low grade fungal infections BUT it is important for your daughter to be seen and for those lesions to be carefully examined and even biopsied to be certain of their underlying etiology. The description that you give does not sound like any form of skin cancer, but on the other hand she might have underlying hormonal problems that could lead to darkening of the skin in some areas; although typically that doesn`t occur as you have described. I urge you to see your board certified dermatologist for a careful examination and work-up that will help both you and your daughter`s peace of mind.

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati