A lentigo (plural lentigines) – more commonly known as sun spots or liver spots – are areas of discolored skin that commonly occur on sun-exposed areas of the body. They appear as well defined spots that vary in size, and are grey, brown or black in color. They are most frequently found on the back of the hands, forearms, face, shoulders and other areas of the body that have been subjected to high levels of sun exposure. Spots usually start out small (size of a freckle) and can grow over time. Groups of lentigenes can join together, giving a more prominent appearance. These pigment changes are brought about by factors such as aging and sun exposure. Lentigenes are typically found in people that have fair skin. Although they are most common in adults over the age of 40, they can occur in younger people as well. The appearance of lentigenes does indicate a significant degree of past sun exposure.Although lentigenes are benign, they may be bothersome from a cosmetic perspective. Rarely, lentigenes will continue to grow in size and vary in color. If so, they are considered to be lentigo maligna, and in some cases have the potential to evolve into lentigo maligna melanomas.
Common features of lentigenes include: Well-defined spots that are grey, brown or black in color The spots may grow larger over time and join together, becoming more prominent on the skin
Lentigenes are caused by long-term exposure to the sun’s UV rays. UV light naturally accelerates melanin production in the skin. Sometimes melanin is produced in higher concentrations in certain areas of the skin, resulting in the appearance of lentigenes.
Good skin care and adequate protection against the sun are the first steps in treating lentigenes.Use gentle cleansers to keep your skin clean and clear. Avoid astringents that contain alcohol, which may dry out the skin.Also, try incorporating daily sun protection with an SPF-rated moisturizer to reduce further sun damage to your skin The long-term and daily use of sunscreens use has actually shown to reduce the chances of developing lentigos.
The first step in preventing lentigenes is good skin care and adequate protection from the sun and UV rays.
Limit sun exposure: Reducing your time in the sun is perhaps the easiest way to avoid damage to your skin caused by UV rays. When outdoors, set a time limit and seek shade when necessary. Also keep in mind that UV radiation is the strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Use Sunscreen: Sunscreens are an essential part of protection against the sun. Look for sunscreens that are labeled “Broad Spectrum”. They are often the most effective and offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Make sure to apply generously and frequently.
Cover and protect: Wrap-around sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and clothing that covers your arms and legs, can offer extra protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Topical medications containing alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, vitamin c, azelaic acid, L-selenomethione, and retinoids are useful in reducing the appearance of lentigenes.
A doctor may prescribe bleaching creams that contain topical retinoids and hydroquinone. This treatment causes the spots to fade over the course of a few months.
Lentigenes may also be removed by medical procedures such as chemical peels, liquid nitrogen cryotherapy, or laser therapy.