Age spots, known medically as lentigo, and freckles are most commonly a reaction to sun exposure. While not harmful, some people don’t like how they affect their appearance and self-confidence.
Lentigo can vary significantly in appearance, and while sun exposure is the most common trigger, other factors can play a role too. Find more information below on lentigo and freckles, and the treatments available at The Dermatology Clinic London.
Solar lentigos are flat spots that develop as a result of sun exposure, particularly if you have fair skin. They are not cancerous and can occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly appear on the forearms, shoulders, face and neck. Solar lentigos vary in colour depending on skin tone, but can range from yellow-brown to dark brown-black
Unlike freckles (lentigo simplex), solar lentigos tend to form after the age of 30. Freckles are caused by overproduction of pigment within the melanocytes together with increased numbers of melanocytes (pigment producing cells). Solar lentigos tend to be larger than freckles with a width of more than 5mm. Another major difference is that freckles fade in the winter, whereas solar lentigos do not.
Both solar lentigos and freckles are harmless and completely benign, but it is important to recognise the differences between these and a type of skin cancer called lentigo maligna melanoma. If you notice a brown spot with multiple colours or an irregular border, it’s important to seek medical advice as soon as possible, as a biopsy may be required.
Although freckles and solar lentigos are totally harmless, some people feel self-conscious about their physical appearance, particularly if they appear on the face. If you’re unhappy with a solar lentigo or freckle, The Dermatology Clinic team can help. Our treatments include:
Chemical peels: these rapidly remove freckles and solar lentigos from the face
Cryotherapy: this involves ‘freezing off’ the lesion in a quick and painless procedure using cold liquid nitrogen
Laser treatments: another effective method for reducing the appearance of solar lentigos or large freckles
Lightening creams: these reduce the appearance of darker coloured solar lentigos
Intense pulsed light treatment: this treatment rectifies uneven melanin levels in the skin to gradually reduce the appearance of freckles or solar lentigos
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