A lentigo (plural – lentigini) is a persistent but stable, discrete, uniform hyperpigmented tan to black spot that can be seen on skin or mucous membranes. The most common types of lentigines include lentigo simplex, solar lentigo, and ink spot lentigo. These are benign lesions. They do not turn into cancer.

Lentigo simplex, or juvenile lentigo, usually develop during childhood and adolescence but may be present at birth. They occur as sharply defined, round to oval, tan to brown flat spots on any skin surface. Darkly pigmented individuals are more likely to develop lentigines on the palms, soles and nail beds.

Solar lentigines, also known as age spots, liver spots and/or senile lentigines, look similar to the lesions of lentigo simplex but are typically seen on the backs of the hands, cheeks and forehead in older populations. They are also commonly seen on the shoulders and upper chest in somewhat younger patients with light skin who have a significant history of exposure to sun light or sunburns.
Ink spot lentigo, or sunburn lentigo, is a variant of the solar lentigo. They commonly occur on the shoulders years after acute UV exposure. They are small, irregular, dark gray to jet black flat spots that resemble an ink spot, thus giving the lesion its name.

Although no treatment is required for lentigines, cryotherapy, chemical peels, laser therapy, and various topical creams alone or in combination may improve their appearance temporarily. Sun protection may reduce the number of new solar and ink spot lentigines.

Ortonne JP, et al. Treatment of solar lentigines. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006;54:S262-71.

Celeste Angel, D.O.
Department of Dermatology
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine/Frankford Hospital
Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia.