Lentigines: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Lentigines are known as the liver spots in common language. They are also called sun spots and age spots. These are called age spots because these spots are more visible in middle age people and increase with growing age. Lentigines are the harmless lesions which mostly affect the sun-exposed areas of the skin. They are commonly seen on the back of hands, neck and face.

Lesions of Lentigines are irregular in shape and vary in size which can be from .2 to 2 cm. These lesions are flat with no outgrowth and have discrete borders. They are dark in color.

Though Lentigines cause no harm to health but it is a cosmetic problem. These spots make the person look older.

Lentigines occur due to heavy increase in number of pigment cells in the superficial skin layer. If there is increase in size of lesions, change in thickness or change in color, skin biopsy should be done to rule out cancer.

Though no treatment is necessary to treat Lentigines but for cosmetic reasons, people can opt for various treatment options available. Another thing is one should protect skin from sun exposure to prevent formation of Lentigines.

Symptoms of Lentigines:

There is no other symptom of Lentigines except presence of spots. These spots are dark in color and have irregular shape. Another thing is these lesions are flat; not raised above the skin.You se tehm on face, neck and back of hands. Other portions of skin which are mostly exposed sun can have Lentigines. You can feel it yourself by looking at your skin. Inner areas which are always covered, like inner thighs, do not have Lentigines at all.

Causes of Lentigines:

The most obvious cause of Lentigines is chronic exposure to sun rays. Another reason can be hereditary. There may be any family history of Lentigines. Sometimes, medical procedures like radiation therapy also cause Lentigines. Some people have multiple Lentigines from birth.

How to Prevent Formation of Lentigines:

 Development of Lentigines can be prevented only by protecting your skin from sun rays before the age of forty. For this, you should apply liberal amount of sunscreen lotion whenever you go out in sun. Also wear long sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats. Sun protection is very important to protect skin from various types of skin cancers.

What are the Treatments for Lentigines:

Lentigines are benign spots and there is no need to treat them. But for cosmetic concerns, people prefer to get them treated. There are many options to treat Lentigines. You must consult a dermatologist before going for any treatment as it is very important to confirm the nature of dark spots.

A very effective treatment for Lentigines is topical application of vitamin C. When vitamin C is used in combination with alpha hydroxyacids, results are better.

Using Retin-A is another good treatment for Lentigines. It is recommended to apply Retin-A cream for six months, once daily. It lightens the large spots and small spots disappear completely. Retin-A cream can also be used in combination with alpha hydroxyacids.

The latest treatments for Lentigines involve use of alpha hydroxyl acid gels and beta hydroxyl gels. Apply these lotions on the dark spots twice a day; in the morning and at night.

Chemical Peels:

Chemical peeling of Lentigines by use of alpha hydroxyacid. This is called alpha hydroxyacid peel. In this procedure, mild acid is applied on the skin to remove the liver spots from the upper layer of skin. It is one of the quickest ways to get rid of Lentigines. It is effective for all skin types.

The fastest way to get rid of Lentigines is application of liquid nitrogen therapy. Liquid nitrogen is the liquidized form of nitrogen gas. It is liquefied at -321 ºF. Liquid nitrogen is spread over the liver spot. It lightens the color of the spot within a month. This treatment has a limitation like it gives stinging feeling when applied over the spot and also it may leave a permanent scar or white spot on the skin.  

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