Have you ever wondered what those spots are on your grandma or grandpa’s hand and arm? and when you asked them, they’ll say solar lentigo or liver spots, and you will be left hanging asking yourself what is solar lentigo? confused and lost as you are, I was too.
That’s when I ended up searching for it and asked my dermatologist about it. Now that I have an abundance of information to share about it, I plan on giving it to you guys for free, just for a better education overall.
What does a solar lentigo look like?
Solar lentigo, also known as age spots, liver spots or senile freckles look like spots on the skin with brownish colour, sometimes skin colored or a light tan.
The shapes range from irregular shapes to round and oval shapes, usually flat on the skin.
They can be as small as a few millimeters to as big as a few centimeters on the surface of your skin. People with dark and light skin can have it, but its more visible on light skinned people.
Most of the time the spots are formed in lesions or group, seldom individually. The face and the arm is where you’ll get them the most, also called the sun-exposed side of your body.
The Cause Of Solar Lentigo
There are a ton of things that comes along when we get older, and solar lentigo or liver spots are one of them. Solar lentigo is caused by sun exposure, but not just because of exposure to the sun.
When we get older our skin gets weaker and thinner, somehow the sun has the ability to make it worse for us.
The pigment in our skin will start to change due to our skin getting exposed to the sun over the years.
When the pigments start to accumulate, you will start to see brownish spots forming called solar lentigo or liver spots.
The pigment is called melanin, and melanin is produced by the skin cells in our body when our skin gets damaged by the sun’s UVA and UVB.
This goes to show how incredibly harmful the sun’s UVA and UVB can be. These age spots will fade over time, but they will not disappear from the skin, you can see it as a scar(sort of). It doesn’t hurt to buy a sunscreen and apply it before you go out.
Liver spots are more common in older people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it in your 20s or 30s…
Prevention And Treatment
What you do with your skin in your early years has a lot to do with how your skin grows and become afterwards (50 and up), just like your overall health. If you are someone that works out regularly and eat enough healthy food then perhaps you should consider treating your skin the same way.
If its possible, try to avoid the sun during this time, from 10:00 am till 3:00 pm. That’s when the sun shines at its brightest thus making the ultraviolet lights emitted from the sun stronger and more harmful.
Usually there is no treatment necessary for this, but if you want, you can consult with your doctor, he/she can prescribe a medication for you to lighten up the mark. If you are worried, consult your doctor to rule out the possibility of skin cancer or some underlying condition
Are Solar Lentigo Harmful?
Solar Lentigo is one of the many types of lentigos. There are 4 different types of lentigos as we know:
- Solar Lentigo
- Reticulated Lentigo
- Lentigo Simplex
- Lentigo Maligna
In general, Lentigos are not harmful, but it can be cancerous in some cases. Of all the types of lentigos, Lentigo maligna is the one you should be looking out for. Dermatologists say that the lentigo maligna may appear as freckles, but without proper examination, its hard to determine whether the lentigo maligna is cancerous.
That’s why it is recommended by dermatologists to have your skin checked at least once a year, to see if the pigment changes have anything to do with skin cancer. If the lentigo maligna stays untreated, there’s a pretty high chance it could turn into malignant carcinoma.
So with that said, even if 90 percent or more may not be harmful, there is still the possibility of it turning into something harmful. See your doctor if you notice sudden changes in skin colour caused by one or more skin conditions. Professional examination is the only real way to determine whether it is harmful.
Difference Between Solar Lentigo And Freckles
Many of us get confused and think they are the same, solar lentigo, liver spots and age spots are the same, but freckles are different. Freckles are different in the sense of what causes it.
Let’s talk about the similarities between solar lentigo and freckles first.
- Both are brownish, dark colored mark on the skin.
- Both have a common bond with the sun’s UVA and UVB
But here’s the difference, liver spots or age spots are usually formed in older adults above the age of 30. Their main cause is the sun’s ultraviolet light. Most of the time solar lentigos are a lesion of marks, and they usually fade a little when not exposed to the sun.
Freckles on the other hand is said to be genetic. If one or both of your parents have freckles, the chances are, you might have them as well. People that have freckles usually have paler skin and red hair, because the gene responsible for freckles is also responsible for red hair.