Brown Liver Spots on the Skin
Brown liver spots on the skin are called this because of their color. They're also called age spots because they most often appear as you age. The skin is a large area of the body and one that can be hard to hide any "imperfections" especially if they are on the hands or face. These brown spots, a form of hyperpigmentation of the skin, come in varying shapes, sizes and colors and are normally treated easily.
Liver spots are "flat, brown-black spots that usually occur in sun-exposed areas of the skin," according to the MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Contrary to their name, they do not have anything to do with the liver or liver function. Whether they are called age spots, sun spots or liver spots, they become more prevalent and increase in number with continued exposure to the sun and as a result of normal aging.
The color of the skin is determined by the mixture of brown melanin with red, yellow and blue melanin. When brown spots appear on the skin, it is a result of increased pigment or hyperpigmentation in the skin's cells. Any sun exposure also affects the skin's color and the amount of melanin present. The melanocytes in the skin produce more melanin, or pigment, when exposed to the sun's rays, which result in the spot's color.
Most people who develop brown liver spots have fair skin, but age spots can also appear in those with darker skin. The most common areas for age spots to appear are on the back of the hand, forearm, neck, chest, shoulders and face, according to DermaNetwork. They can range in size from a small pea to a dime. These symptoms of brown spots are common in people over the age of 40 but can appear in younger people too. Most pigmentation symptoms are painless.
It's possible to prevent liver spots on the skin by limiting sun exposure and sun damage. Staying out of the sun and applying an appropriate sunscreen every day will minimize the chance of having liver spots. Some bleaching creams can be applied to fade brown spots gradually. Dermabrasion involves sanding down the skin's surface layer with a special brush to remove the brown spots; a new layer of skin grows to replace the surface layer. Chemical peels, when used over a period of time, can also fade brown liver spots, notes DermaNetwork.
Most brown liver spots on the skin are harmless, but having them may mean you are at risk for skin cancer. If there is a change in how an area of different skin pigmentation looks, like a change in size, border or color, see a doctor for an evaluation. Some common treatments for brown liver spots are considered cosmetic and may not be covered by insurance.
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