Solar Lentigo (Age Spots)
Solar Lentigo Overview
Solar lentigo is a harmless (benign) area of darkened skin where the body has produced an excess of melanin. Caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, solar lentigo (lentigines plural) is also more commonly known as age spots, sunspots, senile freckles or liver spots. These are not to be confused with freckles as, unlike freckles, they do not fade even in the winter.
Although these spots are benign, they can indicate that you are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Solar lentigines are extremely common, and anyone can get them at any age, no matter their race; however, you are most likely to be at risk if you are fair-skinned and over the age of 40. If you fail to tan or sunburn easily, you are at an even greater risk.
Solar Lentigo Symptoms
Flat spots of darkened skin
Usually where exposed to sunlight or other UV rays
Spots are well defined
Range in color
From light tan to very dark brown
Round and symmetrical in shape
Do not itch, bleed or cause pain
Solar Lentigo Diagnosis
Verifying if you have developed a solar lentigo begins with a trip to your dermatologist. Your doctor will ask about your and your family’s medical history and examine the spots in question. If your doctor is concerned, they may biopsy the affected area.
Solar Lentigo Treatments
It is not medically necessary to treat a solar lentigo. However, if you find them cosmetically offensive, there are possible treatments, including:
Laser surgery removal
Freezing with liquid nitrogen
Using a bleaching cream
This treatment is not highly effective.
Regularly apply sunscreen (a minimum of 30 SPF) even if you will be indoors and avoid exposure to sunlight or other UV rays to prevent a new solar lentigo from forming.
Start protecting your children early by regularly applying sunscreen.