Liver spots or age spots are flat and usually brown spots on the skin, but you may hear some people calling these skin changes solar lentigines. They usually appear on the areas of the skin frequently exposed to the sunlight, especially on the face, arms, shoulders and the hands. Although people suffering from this problem are commonly over 40 years of age, solar lentigines can be seen in much younger people as well.
How to Recognize Liver Spots?
Liver spots may be brown or black in color and they are very variable is size, from freckles to more than 1cm in diameter. Sometimes, these spots may group and form one big spot, easily seen on patient’s skin. On the skin, liver spots are oval regions of increased pigmentation which lay flat. These changes are also much easier seen in people of fair complexion but these affect people with darker skin, too.
Back of the hands, the face, upper back and the shoulders, as well as the tops of the feet are the most commonly affected parts of the body, since these areas of the skin are the most exposed to the sun over the years.
Liver spots are mostly harmless and they don’t need medical attention. Always monitor your skin and if your liver spot start to change in any way, visit your doctor and ask him or her for advice. Dark pigmentation of the spots, unusual combination of colors, rapid increase in size or irregular borders of liver spots must be reported to the doctor as soon as possible, in order to avoid serious problems such as skin cancer (melanoma). Also, make sure to consult your doctor about any itchy, red or bleeding liver spots, for these may also indicate skin cancer in certain cases.
Prevent Liver Spots
Age spots can be prevented only by limiting exposure to the sunlight. Don’t expose your skin to the sun between 10am and 4pm. The sun is the most intense during this part of the day, so try not to be outside at that time. Wear the broad-brimmed hat to protect from sunlight and make sure to be in tightly woven clothes when on the sun. Cover your arms and legs with this clothing and you probably won’t have (at least) any new liver spots.
Use broad spectrum sunscreens, with at least 15 and up to 50 UPF (ultraviolet protection factor). These sunscreens will protect you from UVA and UVB sunlight, so make sure to apply them 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors.