Lentigo (Sun Spots)

Solar lentigenes are tan, brown, or brownish-black spots on the skin that may be called sun spots or age spots. A lentigo is formed when a large number of melanocytes (the cells containing melanin pigment) proliferate in the top layer of skin (epidermis). Age spots may be small and round or large and irregularly shaped.  This skin condition is very common – affecting 9 out of 10 Caucasian adults over the age of 60. They also occur in younger individuals. Unlike freckles, once sun spots form they don’t get darker and lighter seasonally based on the amount of sun exposure they receive. They may develop rapidly, or gradually over a number of years. These marks are benign but can indicate that skin has been severely sunburned in the past. This is a risk factor for developing melanoma, so the area should be watched for signs of cancer.

Potential Treatments

A variety of skin rejuvenation treatments can be used to minimize sun spots.

  • Retin A to even out skin tone
  • Hydroquinone bleaching cream to lighten affected areas
  • Microdermabrasion to exfoliate the stratum corneum (dead layer of skin cells)
  • Light to medium depth chemical peel to treat the epidermis
  • Laser therapy that targets and breaks up areas of darker pigment

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