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A Solar What?

What is it and where did it come from?

What Is A Solar Lentigo?

A lentigo (plural: lentigines) is a spot on the skin that is darker than the surrounding skin. It is not a freckle. Solar lentigines are the most common form of lentigines and most predominant among Caucasians, especially those with very fair skin, but also presents at a high rate in Asian skin. 


While benign (harmless), most people choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons, which result in a younger, more even-toned appearance. However, solar lentigines do indicate prolonged UV exposure which is a precursor for some skin cancers. Therefore it is recommended that you take care to either avoid the sun or cover up as much as possible. 


What does a solar lentigo look like?

It is a pigmented (usually brown), flat or slightly raised lesion with a clear defined edge. Unlike an ephelis (freckle), it does not fade in the winter months.
















Types Of Lentigo

Lentigo Simplex

  • A precursor to junctional nevus

  • Arises during childhood and early adult life

  • Found on trunk and limbs

  • Small brown round or oval macule or thin plaque

  • Jagged or smooth edge

  • May have a dry surface

  • May disappear in time

Solar Lentigo

  • A precursor to seborrheic keratosis

  • Found on chronically sun exposed sites such as hands, face and  lower legs

  • May also follow sunburn to shoulders

  • Yellow, light or dark brown regular or irregular macule or thin plaque

  • May have a dry surface

  • Often has “moth-eaten” outline

  • Can slowly enlarge to several centimeters in diameter

  • May disappear, often through the process known as lichenoid keratosis


Ink Spot Lentigo

  • Also known as reticulated lentigo

  • Few in number compared to solar lentigines

  • Follows sunburn in very fair skinned individuals

  • Dark brown to black irregular ink spot-like macule


PUVA Lentigo

  • Similar to ink spot lentigo but follows photo-chemotherapy (PUVA)

  • Location anywhere exposed to PUVA


Tanning Bed Lentigo

  • Similar to ink spot lentigo but follows indoor tanning

  • Location anywhere exposed to tanning bed


Radiation Lentigo

  • Occurs on site of irradiation (accidental or therapeutic)

  • Associated with late-stage radiation dermatitis: epidermal atrophy, subcutaneous fibrosis, keratosis, or telangiectasis 


Generalized Lentigo

  • Found on any exposed or covered site from early childhood

  • Small macules may merge to form larger patches

  • Not associated with a syndrome

  • Also called lentigines profusa, multiple lentigines


Agminated Lentigo

  • Nevoid eruption of lentigines confined to a single segmental area

  • Sharp demarcation in midline

  • May have associated neurological and developmental abnormalities


Patterned Lentigo

  • Inherited tendency to lentigines on face, lips, buttocks, palms and  soles of feet

  • Recognized mainly in people of African ethnicity


What causes a solar lentigo?

Exposure to the sun seems to be the major cause of lentigines, hence the term solar lentigo. One of the universal skin lesions, a solar lentigo can develop over an extended time, or erupt quickly, on both genders at all ages. Also known as liver spots or age spots, solar lentigines are often associated with aging and extended ultra-violet exposure and radiation.

Where do they appear?

Solar lentigines most often appear on parts of the body that get the most sun, including the hands and face, specifically the nose, forehead and ears. Some lentigines may be caused by genetics, medical procedures such as radiation therapy and overuse of tanning beds. 


How is a solar lentigo treated?

There are several standard methods that most dermatologist use for treating solar lentigines:

  • Cryosurgery (freezing it off)

  • Laser surgery

  • Creams that are applied to the skin, such as retinoids or bleaching agents


Unfortunately, there are several side-effects to these methods, they can be extremely painful and the results are not permanent, especially with the topical treatments.

Dr. Gillaspie’s uses the CryoProbe. It is a non-toxic combination of freezing temperature and pressurization that helps remove superficial lesions without cutting, bleeding, or the need for sutures. There are no “laser burns” as sometimes seen with laser surgery and it is typically pain free. The extreme precision of the CryoProbe results in less damage to the surrounding skin and usually only one treatment is needed. With the proper aftercare (conscientious sun protection) the results are long term to permanent, with absolutely no side-effects.

Can solar lentigines be prevented?

Yes! The best way to prevent a solar lentigo is to stay out of the sun as much as possible, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more when outdoors, and wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat. Prevention is the best option, however, most of us didn't know anything about prevention in our early years.

If solar lentigines are a part of your appearance you’d like changed, please call for an educational consultation... a good start to the beginning of a new you!

Solar Lentigo
(Not Freckles)
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