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Liver Spots - Pictures, Causes, Treatment, Removal

Updated on December 6, 2013

Liver Spots Pictures

What are Liver Spots?

Liver spots are the most common skin condition characterized by a lesion which is induced by exposure to the sun. It is also known as lentigo senilis or age spot and usually develops on the face, hands, arms and the upper portion of the trunk. It is a benign type of epidermal skin pigmentation lesion that has no relation to any disease of the liver as opposed to its name.

Liver spots are also commonly known as an age spot and this skin condition is generally benign and harmless. It causes cosmetic concern however that may lead to some distress owing to the location of the spots that are very visible. The spots are marked by brown skin pigmentation similar to a freckle although the size is much larger than the freckles. It is usually flat with varying sizes and is typically surrounded by skin free of spots. Liver spots can affect anyone and the mean onset is usually during the middle age or older. It is more common in men than in women and is prevalent in fair skinned individual. The incidence is observed all over the world and the most area affected is the face according to some reports.

Age relation of incidence in liver spots is based on the fact that the ability of the skin to regenerate diminishes from too much sun exposure and the normal aging process of an individual. Those individuals constantly exposed to sunlight or from its ultraviolet rays for longer periods are potentially at risk for liver spots. Children can also get the liver spot but this may be related to some underlying condition or in association to some genetic condition marked by skin lesions.

Causes

The melanin is a substance that primarily gives color to the human skin and gives color to the human hair as well. The concentration or quantity of melanin determines the color shade in human where darker skinned people have higher amount of melanin in the body while those with less amount of melanin have lighter skin. The melanin is also beneficial to people as it gives protection to the skin against the harmful effect of ultraviolet rays from the sun. The melanin however does not completely protect an individual from the damage to the ray of the sun. Dark skinned tone people are still at higher risk for sun damaging rays.

Melanin is involved in the development of liver spots. The constant and prolonged exposure to UV rays is the major implication in liver spots while older people have accumulated long years of being exposed to the ray of the sun as compared to children. Increase production in the melanin gives the epidermis a tan color to protect the deeper layer of the skin from the harm of these UV light rays. The UV light rays thus hasten the production of melanin thereby increasing its production to compensate for the harm of UV rays after years of frequent and prolonged unprotected exposure under the sun.

Age advancement is also implicated in the onset of liver spots. The implication is related to the ability of the skin to regenerate from damage to sunlight. It is a fact that the skin will later lose its elasticity and ability to regenerate as part of the normal aging process.

The fad in modern days of obtaining a darker skin tone among light colored individuals has started the development of commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds. This commercial tanning lamp utilizes UV rays to trigger the melanin from increasing its production thus resulting to darker skin tone. The frequent use of these commercial tanning lamps and bed are also implicated in the early onset of liver spots among its users.

Some individuals are subjected to the onset of liver spots in relation to genetic predisposition. The genetic makeup of an individual has a vital position in the incidence of liver spots that put them at high risk for the skin condition.

Risk factors are also considered in the development of liver spots. These factors are associated with quantity of exposure of an individual under the sun. Field activities that require an individual to stay under the sun for a long period are considered a risk factor. Occupational factors are also among the risk such as the work of farmers, gardeners and other field works requiring prolonged exposure under the sun. Frequent unprotected exposure under the sun is risky enough to develop liver spots.

Treatment

Liver spots are generally harmless and may not need treatment except for some individuals who prefer treatment for cosmetic concern. The spots can be lightened with medications or can be removed with surgery depending on the preference of the patient and upon the advice of a doctor or dermatologist.

Liver spots or age spots are medically not dangerous or harmful but can cause undue distress with regards to cosmetic reasons as the condition itself is a permanent skin change. Age spots can also hinder the diagnosis of certain types of skin cancer.

Liver spots are permanent skin damage that can affect the cosmetic appearance of an individual. Treatment however is available not to directly cure the skin damage but to improve the cosmetic appearance of an affected individual through lightening the skin pigmentation through various medications available.

Topical applications such as bleaching creams, tretinoin and alpha hydroxyl acids are commonly prescribed by doctors to help lighten the liver spots I small sizes. Depending on the extent of liver spots, topical applications take a couple of months to a year to take effect or it may sometimes take longer than expected.

Sunscreen application is recommended to protect the spots and other areas of the skin from further damage. It is also recommended to use after the liver spots have abated to prevent recurrence.

Chemical peeling is also one way of removing the spots through the application of chemical solutions directly on the spots to facilitate peeling of the blemished skin.

Removal

Surgical procedures may also be utilized to permanently remove the spots especially those with larger sizes and this include the following:

Cryosurgery is done through the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the tissue of the skin prior to removal.

Dermabrasion is performed with a specialized instrument to slightly sand the surface of the skin affected with the age spots.

Laser therapy is the modern way of removing age spots through utilization of laser lights directed towards the affected skin.

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