Liver spots

Alternative Names

Sun-induced skin changes – liver spots; Senile or solar lentigines; Skin spots – aging; Age spots

Definition of Liver spots

Liver spots are flat, brown-black spots that usually appear on the skin in sun-exposed areas of the body. They have nothing to do with the liver or liver function.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Liver spots are changes in skin color that occur in older skin. The increased color may be due to aging, exposure to the sun or other forms of ultraviolet light, or other unknown causes.

Symptoms

Skin lesion that is:

Signs and tests

A diagnosis is based on the appearance of the skin, especially if you are over 40 and have had a lot of sun exposure over the years. A liver spot that looks irregular may be to confirm that it is not skin cancer.

Treatment

No treatment is needed in most cases. You can improve the appearance of your skin by using skin bleaching lotions or creams. Most bleaching lotions use hydroquinone. This can cause blisters or skin reactions in some people. See your health care provider before starting treatment if you are worried.

Expectations (prognosis)

Liver spots are not medically dangerous. They are permanent skin changes that may affect the cosmetic appearance of the skin.

Review

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 10/28/2010

Lentigo, solar on the back
Lentigo, solar with erythema on the arm

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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