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Information on senile lentigines - brown spots on hands, face and body

Updated on September 29, 2013
Snile lentigines on an older woman's face.
Snile lentigines on an older woman's face. | Source

Senile lentigines - also known as Solar lentigo, Lentigo senilis or even liver spots - are brown patches that appear on a patient's skin as he or she ages. The common cause of these spots is exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, which happens frequently over the average person's lifespan. The color of liver spots can vary, but the most common associated colors are brown, purple, red and even black.

In the past, people thought these spots were the result of liver problems, thus they were nicknamed "liver spots." These spots have nothing to do with the liver. Around 40 years of age, liver spots begin to develop. They commonly develop earlier on individuals who tend to spend a lot of time in the sun.

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Health Risks

Thankfully, the vast majority of senile lentigines have no known health risks. The only concern for most people are superficial ones. Many people do not like having liver spots because it is associated with aging. Most liver spots can be covered up with concealer or other makeup products. If liver spots are a concern, they can be lightened or removed with laser treatment or electrosurgery. It is important to seek the advice of a dermatologist before seeking treatment.


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Liver spots on a hand.Liver spots on a back.Large liver spots on a cheek.Liver spots before and after treatment.
Liver spots on a hand.
Liver spots on a hand.
Liver spots on a back.
Liver spots on a back.
Large liver spots on a cheek.
Large liver spots on a cheek.
Liver spots before and after treatment.
Liver spots before and after treatment. | Source

Advice for liver spots


  • Liver spots appear as a person ages
  • The usually start to appear at ages 40+
  • They are more common in people who enjoy the outdoors.
  • They can be covered with cosmetics
  • They can be removed or faded with laser treatments.
  • Liver spots do not generally indicate illness. They are a normal part of aging.

More information

If the patient has a fair complexion, liver spots are more visible. People of European and Asian descent often have more noticeable liver spots, compared to people of African decent.

Liver spots can be as small as a few milometers to as big as a half an inch or more. They vary greatly in size, so larger liver spots do not cause any more concern than small ones. Often, they form in groups, like a rash. This makes them appear more prominent.

The most common places for them to appear are the back, shoulders, chest, back of the hand and face.

When to seek a dermatologist

The appearance of liver spots is not usually a need for concern. It is very normal and most people will develop at least one liver spot in their lifetime. However, if you have any of the following symptoms, you might want to check in with a doctor:

  • Liver spots that are very dark in color. Liver spots should not usually be very darkly pigmented.
  • Redness, itchiness or burning of the spot.
  • Tenderness in the area around the spot.
  • The spot has a rapid increase in size.


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