Liver spots have nothing to do with your liver. They are actually “sun” spots and are the result of sun damage to melanocytes, the pigment making cells in your skin. Although patients often think these brown spots occur only on the back of the hands, they can be found anywhere there is sun damage such as the face, chest, back, and scalp.
Sun spots are a sign of aging; it takes years of sun damage to develop them and they are associated with being old. As such, patients often ask me what they can do to get rid of them.
There are many ways to treat sun spots including freezing them with a cryospray, zapping them with a laser, applying a chemical peel, and treating with bleaching creams. Treating them with lasers, peels, or freezing can be painful and can lead to more pigmentation from damage done by the treatment. Bleaching creams can work, but many of the products currently available are not potent enough to lighten these spots satisfactorily.
A recent study published in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology examined the effectiveness of a new treatment that combines a bleaching agent with a retinoid to treat these brown spots. Retinoids are used to treat a variety of skin conditions from acne to wrinkles and have been shown to smooth pigment irregularities. They found that applying Solage® (which contains mequinol, a bleach, and tretinoin, a retinoid) lightened brown spots after two months of use. They also found that the treated spots did not return after stopping the treatment.
Because sun spots are the result of damage from ultraviolet light, it is necessary to wear sunscreen and avoid sun exposure in the treated areas or the brown spots will eventually come back (not to mention, you would develop new ones).
Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD. You might also like:
Photo: Sukanto Debnath