What are Lentigines?
Lentigines or liver spots are benign spots that occur on the sun exposed areas of the skin. They are larger and more defined than freckles. They may slowly evolve over years or may appear suddenly and persist for long periods. They are commonly seen on the face and the back of the hands.
What causes Lentigines?
Lentigines are caused by marked increase in the number of pigment cells located in the superficial layers of the skin.
Exposure to UV light from the sun is one of the biggest causes. Lentigines are common in those with fair skin but are also frequently seen in those who tan easily or have naturally dark skin.
The lesions tend to increase with age, making them more common among middle age and older population.
How are Lentigines treated?
Lentigines are harmless and treatment is often required only from the cosmetic point of view. Mild cases of Lentigines are treated using skin lightening agents, antioxidants and sun protection. However in case of chronic and relapsing types, a combination approach involving external applications and oral medication is used. The combination approach helps to lighten the patch from the surface as well as reduce the activity of the melanocytes internally.
It is important to distinguish the harmless Lentigines from early malignant melanoma. A biopsy should be considered if a lesion shows irregular border, changes in color or thickness.