why do they call them liver spots
I m almost halfway through my thirties, and I ve recently noticed some skin spots that I remember seeing on the arms of my grandmother and aunts when I was growing up. I always heard them called Бliver spots,Б which sounds a little unnerving to me. So I started thinking, БAre the spots evidence of liver troubles? Are they a sign of premature aging? Б
I took my questions to Daniel Zaghi, MD, MS, a dermatologist on the medical staff at. Q: б What are liver spots? Liver spots or old age spots, also known as solar lentigines, are very common tan, brown or black spots on the skin. While they can appear anywhere, they often occur on sun-exposed locations like the face, upper chest and back, arms and hands. Liver spots are usually due to many years of ultraviolet (UV) exposure from the sun. The more our skin is exposed to UV light, the more it creates a pigment called melanin to block the UV light from damaging the genetic information inside cells. Age spots are most common in people over the age of 40, though they can be seen in much younger patients. б Those at greatest risk for the development of age spots includes patients with fair skin, outdoor occupations, or a history of tanning, radiation or light therapy. Q: б Are they troublesome? Are they a potential indicator of cancer? Liver spots are not pre-cancerous, though they are often troublesome from a cosmetic perspective. This is especially true given that liver spots target those areas of our skin that are most visible.
Q: б What do liver spots look like? Liver spots look like oval or round flat brown, tan or black splotches on the skin. They vary in size from a few millimeters to two centimeters. They are usually smooth to the touch and uniform in color. Some patients have just a few while others may have hundreds on their skin. Q: б If they have nothing to do with the organ, why are they called liver spots? They were thought to have derived from the liver, but we now know that is not the case. Q: б Do liver spots run in families? Did I inherit the tendency to develop them? You may have! Your genetic makeup, including the color of your skin, does influence your ability to develop liver spots. But remember, like so many other disorders of the skin, a combination of genes and the environment contribute. Q: б Do we need treatment if we have liver spots? True liver spots are completely harmless and do not require treatment. However, liver spots are often upsetting to patients, particularly when they affect the face or backs of hands. For these patients, lots of options are available, ranging from mild lightening of the discoloration to complete removal. Treatment options include topical medicines, freezing with liquid nitrogen, laser therapy, dermabrasion or chemical peels. Many of these are office-based treatments and often require more than one treatment session to see a significant improvement. Each therapy has its own efficacy and side effect profile that should be carefully reviewed with your dermatologist.
The associated costs should also be discussed as insurance companies usually regard liver spots as cosmetic problems that are not covered. The best treatment, however, is often preventative. Wide-brimmed hats, clothing that covers your arms and legs and regular sunscreen are helpful for preventing liver spots, particularly during the peak sunlight hours of 10 a. m. to 4 p. m. Q: б Is there anything else that we need to know about liver spots? While liver spots are harmless, they can be mistaken for a variety of other skin problems. Other skin entities that look like age spots range from simple moles to, a serious form of skin cancer that can be deadly. Performing monthly self-exams and regular skin exams by your dermatologist are recommended to catch any suspicious spot before it becomes a problem. If you have a new spot, get it checked out. This is especially true if the spot is growing, changing color, has irregular borders, multiple colors or begins to itch or bleed. Your dermatologist may ask about your sun exposure, family or personal history of skin cancer and then conduct a visual exam. In the uncommon situation where there is any doubt if a dark area is a liver spot, your dermatologist may order a biopsy for evaluation under a microscope. This is usually performed by your dermatologist in the office using a local anesthetic injected into the skin. Notice some liver spots on your skin? Take Dr.
Zaghi s advice andб to learn more. б Learn more about Baylor Scott White dermatology services. б March 27, 2013 Liver Spots?? Not on My Face! Liver spots, age spots, brown spots they have a variety of names, but no matter what you call them no one desires to have the discoloration marks on their skin. The problem is, not many know how to avoid them, or even get rid of them if they do have them. The solution lies in knowing the causes of these spots. What might that be you ask? Well most of it has to do with aging and overexposure to the sun. While there s not much we can do about aging, we can shield the skin from damaging UV rays, which is the biggest factor impacting skin aging and discoloration. Discoloration and the skin Skin discoloration appears in other forms than liver spots, but we ll visit the other types of hyperpigmentation in another post. Dark spots are among the most common types of pigmentation issues and are often triggered by the skin s natural aging process. As we age, melanin (the skin pigment) can kick into overdrive, producing more melanin than necessary, which collects and forms gray, brown or black spots. There are other factors besides aging of course, but as we age, and our skin continues to be confronted by more assaulting elements (UV rays, medications, trauma, etc. ), our natural defenses begin to weaken allowing damage to occur. Discoloration is, in essence, excessive stimulation of melanin in the skin caused either from systemic (within in the body) or extrinsic (outside) causes, and it can occur in any skin type oily, dry, dark and light.
The primary extrinsic culprit of discoloration is the sun. In many cases, the effects can be amplified with medications and chemicals (like cologne). In all instances of discoloration, however, sun exposure inevitably makes it worse. And men are seeing increasing rates of skin cancer, with nearly 39,000 new cases of melanoma each year (10,000 more cases than women). As a side bar, if you have sun spots, get them checked to eliminate the possibility of cancer. See Spots No More Want spot-free skin? Prevention is key here. Taking 30 seconds to apply a good will help prevent discoloration or worsening conditions. If you can, try to stay out of the sun or shield your skin as much as possible. If you ve already got some spotting, fear not. You still have some defenses. Look to corrective skin care products containing, kombuchka (black tea), and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) to help reduce the appearance. Skin care professionals can also become your ally. They have access to more active, corrective ingredients like TCA, L-lactic acid, phytic and pyruvic acids, to name a few, which can help reverse the damage. Whether your skin care track record is spotty or not, it s never too late to start protecting your skin. So get out your sun block and put it on of course. For more information about sun protection, see the. For treating discoloration, see the.
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