Permanent Skin Damage from at Home TCA Peel?

I have olive complexion. I did an at home 20% TCA Peel 2 days ago to treat sun damage and fine lines. My skin frosted lightly, I rinsed it off...applied triple antibiotic ointment and lotion.

It turned brown IMMEDIATELY that night. Is it normal for my skin to be so brown so soon after the peel? Did I cause permanent scarring or skin color damage? I am afraid that the skin under the burn will also be brown and look totally different from the rest of my face....please help me! I have Photos!

Doctor Answers 4

Chemical peel done at home

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You should keep your skin moist with a product such as Aquaphor and use a mild cleanser such as CeraVe.  The brown discolouration will slough off after a few days.  You must avoid the sun for at least one month after you have peeled or you will develop brown patches called postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.

With a history of cold sores, you must have an oral antiviral medication such as Valtrex on hand to treat any cold sores that develop. You should use Valtrex the day before you have a procedure such as a chemical peel to prevent the outbreak of a cold sore which could spread all over your face after a peel.

You should consider having your peels done with a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon who can determine which peel would be best for you and recommend pre and post peel instructions.

Toronto Dermatologist

Permanent Skin Damage from at Home TCA Peel?

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I would not recommend trying an at home TCA peel. This is sure to result in complications. TCA peeling should only be done by an experienced physician. The brown skin is normal for a few days and it should peel off leaving pink skin underneath.

Avoid self treatment with TCA

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You are developing a post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  Treatment for this type of problem includes the use of hydroquinone 4 to 8 %, Kojic acid, Retin-A, Topical steroid creams.  You can expect it to take up to 10 weeks for the pigmentation to clear. 
Also available from a compounding pharmacy is Klingman's formula which is a mixture of all of the above chemicals.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews


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I just looked at your photos. The brown coloring is not the biggest issue. I am more concerned about a herpetic breakout (cold sore like infection) in the lower lip and chin areas.

You must see a doctor and start Valtrex one gram twice a day immediately.

Brown discoloration after TCA is possible and not necessarily dangerous. You need to keep the face moisturized continuously using Aquaphor or Bacitracin ointment. In 2 more days you will see some peelig of the skin. Do not peel it off, let it come off itself. Avoid sun at all costs. In about a 7 to 9 days peeling will be complete. If it is not that means you are infected and its causing delayed healing. Then you might need oral antibiotics as well. After the healing is complete (skin does not peel and looks pinkish and smooth) you have to use sunscreen every morning and a moisturizer every night.

Please submit follow up photographs and questions as needed.

Goodluck and regards.

Tanveer Janjua, MD
Bedminster Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 126 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.