Solar Lentigo: Concerns

What Is Solar Lentigo?

Solar Lentigo, commonly known as sun spots, age spots or liver spots (although they don’t have anything to do with liver function) manifest as flat, well defined patches of darkened skin that are the result of prolonged or cumulative sun exposure.

Symptoms of Solar Lentigo

Sun spots present as flat, round, oval or irregularly shaped patches of darkened skin that range from light tan to dark brown or even black, and may have a slightly scaly feel. They are typically found in groups in areas that are frequently exposed to sunlight, such as the face, shoulders, decolletage, lower arms and hands. Unlike freckles, which are common in children and fade with no sun exposure, sun spots do not fade.

Sunspots are harmless, they are not skin cancer and cannot turn into skin cancer. However, the same sun exposure that causes solar lentigines over time can also increase your risk of developing skin cancer. If you have a spot on your skin that is growing, changing, itching or bleeding, or has irregular borders, it is important to see your GP. They aren’t typical symptoms of a sun spot and should be reviewed with urgency.


Solar lentigo results from prolonged or cumulative exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, which has caused an excess of melanin production. Melanin is what gives our skin, hair and eyes their natural colour, and protects the skin from the sun’s UV rays by absorbing and diffusing the amount the rays are able to penetrate into the epidermis. Sun spots are the result of your skin trying to protect itself from repeated exposure to these damaging rays. Frequent UV exposure, including tanning beds and a history of bad sunburn are risk factors for developing solar lentigines. While they can affect all skin types and tones, they are more prevalent in fair skinned people, especially those over 30.


While solar lentigo may persist if left untreated, various treatments can be used to help lighten the appearance of sunspots.


Sun Protection – protect your skin from UV exposure by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen, seek shade during peak sun hours and wear a wide brimmed hat/protective clothing with an SPF factor. While protecting the skin from the sun will not alleviate symptoms, it will prevent them becoming darker or deeper.


Skincare Products – ingredients called tyrosinase inhibitors can help reduce the appearance of sunspots as they block tyrosinase, the enzyme that your skin needs to make melanin. These ingredients help to target the cause of pigmentation, by reducing the over-reactive melanin production and gives long lasting relief from solar lentigines.


The most effective tyrosinase inhibitors include hydroquinone and tretinoin, which are prescription-only medical grade skincare products. Other tyrosinase inhibitors include kojic acid, arbutin, vitamin C and liquorice root extract.


A consultation with our skin specialist can help determine the best products for your skin type and symptoms.


Chemical Peels – Chemical Peels involve applying an acid solution to the skin to exfoliate the upper layers of the epidermis, revealing fresher skin with a more even skin tone. It is important to note that multiple treatments may be required to attain the desired result.


Combination therapy – in some cases, a combination of treatments may be recommended for optimal results. A consultation with our skin specialist can help determine the best treatment plan for your symptoms.

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