Medical Dermatology

Solar Lentigines

Solar lentigines are also known as “liver spots” or “age spots.” They are benign flat brown spots most commonly associated with prolonged sun exposure. Parts of the body with most chronic sun exposure—face, shoulders, arms, and upper back—are most likely to develop solar lentigines. In addition, the spots are more common in older patients. Solar lentigines should not itch, hurt, or bleed. Furthermore, they should not change in size, shape, or color. If any of these features are present, you should contact your dermatologist.

Using a dermatoscope (a type of hand-held microscope), most dermatologists can confirm the diagnosis of a solar lentigine. In some cases, however, a skin biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

While solar lentigines are not dangerous, several cosmetic treatment options exist. Prescription bleaching creams containing hydroquinone, Kojic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and tretinoin may help lentigines fade over time. Some physicians also find that cryotherapy (spraying with liquid nitrogen) is helpful. Chemical peels and laser treatments are two additional effective treatment options to consider.