Liver spots and solar lentigines are spots that can be flat tan, brown or black. They differentiate in size and are generally seen on the face, hands, shoulders and arms, areas that are most exposed to the sun.
Liver spots are very common in adults who are older than age 50. But, younger people can get them too, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun.
For cosmetic reasons, liver spots can be lightened with skin-bleaching products or extracted. Although, preventing liver spots can be done by avoiding the sun and use of sunscreen will be the easiest way to maintain your skin's youthful appearance.
Causes of liver spots
Liver spots are primarily caused by years of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. The use of commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds can also contribute to the development of liver spots.
The pigment in the upper layer of skin (epidermis) that gives your skin its normal color is called melanin. UV light increases the production of melanin, creating a tan that helps in protecting deeper layers of skin from UV rays.
On areas of the skin that have years of frequent and prolonged sun exposure, age spots appear when melanin becomes "clumped" or is produced in particularly high concentrations.
Risk factors related with liver spots
Although liver spots can be developed in anyone, you may be more likely to develop the condition if you:
- Have light-colored or fair skin
- Have a history of frequent or intense sun exposure or sunburn
To help avoid liver spots, follow these tips for limiting your sun exposure:
- Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – As the sun's rays are most intense during this time, try to schedule outdoor activities for other times of the day.
- Use sunscreen - 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection from both UVA and UVB light. Use a sunscreen with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours or more often if you're swimming or perspiring.
- Cover up - For protection from the sun, wear a broad-brimmed hat, which provides more protection than does a baseball cap or golf visor, and tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs. You might also consider wearing clothing designed to provide sun protection. An ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 40 to 50 provides the best protection.
Symptoms of liver spots
Typically, liver spots develop in people who are having a fair complexion, but they can be found in those with darker skin. Liver spots:
- Are flat, oval areas of increased pigmentation
- Are usually tan, brown or black
- Occur on skin that has had the most sun exposure over the years, like the backs of hands, tops of feet, face, shoulders and upper back
Liver spots can vary from freckle size to more than 1/2 inch across and can group together, making them more prominent.