Liver spots are flat, brown or black spots that can appear on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun. They have nothing to do with the liver or liver function.
Sun-induced skin changes - liver spots; Senile or solar lentigines; Skin spots - aging; Age spots
Liver spots are changes in skin color that occur in older skin. The coloring may be due to aging, exposure to the sun or other sources of ultraviolet light, or causes that are not known.
Liver spots are very common after age 40. They occur most often on areas that have had the greatest sun exposure, such as the:
Liver spots appear as a patch or area of skin color change that is:
Exams and Tests
Your health care provider usually diagnoses the condition based on how your skin looks, especially if you are over 40 and have had a lot of sun exposure. You may need a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis if you have a liver spot that looks irregular.
Most of the time, no treatment is needed. Talk to your provider about using bleaching lotions or creams. Most bleaching products use hydroquinone. This medicine is thought to be safe in the form used to lighten darkened skin areas. However, hydroquinone can cause blisters or skin reactions in sensitive people.
Talk to your provider about other treatment options, including:
Liver spots are not dangerous to your health. They are permanent skin changes that affect how your skin looks.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if:
Protect your skin from the sun by taking the following steps:
Habif TP. Light-related diseases and disorders of pigmentation. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 19.
James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM. Melanocytic nevi and neoplasms. In: James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 30.
Review Date: 10/24/2016
Reviewed By: David L. Swanson, MD, Vice Chair of Medical Dermatology, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Mayo Medical School, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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