Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"What are lentigines?"
My wife and I are in our 40s, and she just started developing some dark, blotchy spots on her shoulder. I did some research, and it seems like they might be lentigines. If they are, what should we know about them?
Lentigines, also commonly known as liver spots, are darker, blotchy areas of pigmentation that develop usually on sun exposed areas of the skin as people age. They are a degenerative process in the skin that is driven by aging as well as the damage induced by the sun, and they are generally benign and do not require any medical treatment. Occasionally, lentigines can transform into skin cancer. Therefore you should keep on eye on them; if they increase rapidly in size or have changing or irregular color, texture or border you should see your dermatologist to determine whether a biopsy is need. Many people find the lentigines to be cosmetically unattractive and desire treatment for them. There are several different treatment modalities that can be employed. These include bleaching creams, chemical peels, freezing, and laser based therapy. You should talk to your dermatologist to determine whether one of these treatment options is right for you; however, if the procedure is just cosmetic, then it will probably not be covered by your insurance company. An important part of preventing more lentigines from forming is to protect the skin; essentially, this means wearing a good sun screen lotion when outside under the sun.
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