Excessive ,long lasting 'suntan'

Hi ,I was diagnosed with pbc 2 years ago,thought to have started about 7 years ago. No real symptoms with it so far,thankfully, but have noticed skin changes. This summer I developed a really dark suntan on holiday in June, still have it now,hardly faded at all. Also skin very dry and has an almost shiny appearance. I know that sounds contradictory. I'm on meds after a heart attack 2 years ago. Unable to take urso, and started on fenofibrates earlier this year as a replacement for statins, which my liver cannot tolerate. Has anybody else experienced anything like this? I also have several large freckle type marks, that weren't there before.

21 Replies

  • Its prob raised bilirubin i too had a better than normal tan...but its actually prob tge yellow waste product thats supposed to go out through other ways!!

    Have spots as well.

    Have you got v.dark wee and pale no 2...sorry to be basic!!!

    When u seeing doc you might need another blood test if you havent had one since tan.

    Also check tan lines if they are practically non existant the you know its bilirubin not tan.cazer

  • Hi Cazer, Thanks for your reply. I did think about that but don't think it is bilirubin, Tan lines are very pronounced, even 5 little oval shapes from cutouts in a top I wore one day. Looks very odd. Had blood test just after holiday. No worse than before. Was wondering if it might be the fenofibrates as dry skin started just after I started them. I know it's no big deal, just curious really ☺.

  • I've always had a normal bilirubin level so can't be that. 12 months ago my bilirubin came back one outside normal but it wasn't thought anything of, well currently.

    Apparently with PBC we can have dark urine and also pale stools. The urso can cause stools to become pale (not sure about urine there).

    I know dark urine usually first thing of a morning signals that we are starting to become dehyrated due to the period of sleep and then as we drink and eat it starts to become pale to clear in colour signalling we are well hydrated.

    Stools are said to be dark and get their colour due to bile colouring them so I guess it figures in PBC why some of us have paler ones. I've not yet encountered this myself, seem to be normal but in the early days of taking the urso mine did become a bit pale for awhile.

  • The only plus for PBC is the tan. Everyone will tell yo how well you look and where hav you been. To me, it helps me feel better in myself

  • Have to admit, I liked having it! Looks a bit dodgy now though!

  • Mary 48

    I went on holiday in april got a beautiful tan better than normal... 7- months on I still have the tan people are always commenting on how well I look.

  • I tanned much more than usual over the summer as well and also have the freckling that you do. The tan was ok but the dark spots are driving me crazy on the side of my face! Recently went to a dermatologist who said I could try laser or a chemical peel to remove or lighten them. I'm still thinking about that!

    My bilirubin levels are within normal levels - I believe this hypeepigmentation is listed as a symptom or effect of PBC.

    I was glad to hear you have noticeable tan lines as a lack of them would make me think of another autoimmune problem, Addisons disease, which left untreated can be very serious.

    Sounds like we need to avoid too much sun exposure. Never easy for beach bums!!


  • Hi Maureen, Thanks for your reply.You're right. I know it's not healthy but I love a suntan! Without it now I've got a washed out look, or should that read old?! Re: the peel, it had crossed my mind that my skin looks a bit like the brown could scrub off, where's that scourer? Just joking!

  • Hello emerich.

    When I started itching early 2010, over time with itching, especially on the backs of my knees, my skin took on a bit of a bronzed appearance there. After diagnosis December 2010 and taking urso, the bronzing has seemed to vanish but yes, my skin tends to darken more in the sun and stays more tanned during the winter months. I have noticed for the first time of recent my 'tan' has faded more than it used to do. I have to say I've never had lily white skin anyway despite being what is referred to as 'white British', I've always tanned quite well , my late father was the same, he had a more tanned skin too. I've never actually used suncream I have to say as I've always holidayed in the UK but pre-2010 I was never much of a sun-lover anyway. Since being diagnosed with PBC and then having a Vitamin D check to be informed it was 'a bit low' (though looking at the reading, was 'on the line') I have utilised the sun whenever I can, don't bother anymore, out in it when I can in England as we dont' seem to have that much sun anyway.

    I think the skin can start to 'tan' too when we itch a lot. I still itch but it tends to be more confined to late at night and throughout the night. It seems my legs below my knees are the areas that show signs of previously itching, small scars.

    I'm not far off 53 and apparently as we get older we tend to start developing what is known as liver spots, especially on the backs of the hands. I've noticed myself I'm acquiring more of what we call freckles on my arms but so far so good for me.

  • Hi Peridot , Thanks for your reply. I' m hardly aware I have pbc which I'm very thankful for,but have noticed silly little things like this. I had thought these might be liver spots ,whatever they are. I'm 57 now. Wonder why they're called that, are they supposed to be caused by a normal liver with ageing or just a random name? I've also noticed scratches etc take longer to heal and seem to stay as small scars. Again no big deal really, just little markers of pbc maybe, or meds side effects.

  • Hi glad about tan lines as my are not prevalent but then my bilirubin is raised so that made me concerned for you.

    My urine is dark but not just am and i am not dehydrated as i have plenty of fluid and it makes no difference...think its another place where pigment is going.

    As long as your blds are fine just enjoy the look and soak up the sun as us l.desease people dont always absorb vit d very and its a good source.

    Best wishes cazer.

  • Hello emerich.

    Good question, do you know I don't know why they liver spots are called that either. All I do know is that they are supposed to appear with age. Might be a good question to pose a doctor at some point?

    I know in the recent British frost my hands started to have a few little splits on them, always have this time of year but as soon as it becomes mild again (last couple days) they start to disappear. I have actually noticed that they have vanished at the moment. It's nothing to do with the PBC, I just think currently I have pretty good skin that heals well so that surely has to be some good sign I am doing as well as I think I am still doing. Bit of tan or no tan!

  • Hi Peridot.I used to work with clay and often got splits in my hands. The best thing I found is called 'snowfire' It's really soothing and heals fast. Think you need to get it from chemists.

  • Thank you emerich.

    Shall have to check that out. I only tend to be plagued during the colder months, no problem once the warmer ones are with us. Difficult at times as seem to have my hands in water a lot and even wearing rubber gloves doesn't seem to stop the problem. Fortunately they do not get that bad and never really have but it is a nuisance when I do have the problem.

  • Thanks Cazer. Now all we need to do is find some of that sun?! Take care . X

  • Hi, I have a darker pigmentation on the side of my face and a suntan much longer than normal although it has faded but the liver spots are still there.

    I asked the consultant and he smiled and said that it's not till the liver is failing that jaundice appears...but tbh my skin on my face has definitely changed with yellowy with darker freckles. 🙂

  • Hi Emma715, my tan colour has changed as well to a darker shade of brown,wouldn't really say yellowy. Actually my daughter compared it to Egyptian skin colour. I've never thought it might be jaundice ,but I did wonder if it was some connection with pbc. It seems it might be, seeing as several of us have noticed the same changes.

  • I'm 41 I have freckles on my hands too! Haha. Maybe age spots though

  • Hi emerich, I believe the darker skin colour you are referring to is termed hyper pigmentation and is seen in liver disease generally, including PBC. Jaundice from elevated bilirubin is a more serious development as you would know. I too have that slightly darkened skin colour and although I live in Australia - the nation of sun worshippers ! - it definitely has a different appearance to that of a normal sun acquired tan.



  • Can I ask do any of you have dry flaky skin that you might put down to pbc,as well as the darker skin? I noticed both around the same time?

  • Resurrecting this thread as only diagnosed two days ago. But for months people have been saying "You are so brown, have you been abroad?" I have felt so exhausted I could not quite fathom the comments. However I do look tanned and just checked, no tan lines from last summer, it's a general golden colour.

    Very interesting, I have found a positive as I like to look sunkissed hehe!

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