There are various types of skin lesions which can occur over our skin and can be identified based on their appearance and their underlying causes. Two most known skin lesions include the lentigines and the Freckles. This article will revolve around these two skin lesions where we will study the differences between the two skin lesions.

Lentigines Vs Freckles: Differences Worth Knowing

Lentigines Vs Freckles: Basic Differences between Lentigines and Freckles

"Lentigines" is the plural form of lentigo, which are the spots occurring on the skin, usually the brown or darker skin than the surrounding skin. It is mostly seen in Caucasian patients; especially those who have fair skin tone. However lentigines can occur in anyone. Lentigines can appear all throughout the year.

Freckles are small brown colored spots, mostly occurring on the face and arms. They are extremely common and are mostly seen in lighter-skinned people and those with light or red colored hair. However, they can occur in anyone. Both men and women get freckles and they are not a threat to health. Freckles are less noticeable during the winter seasons or the winter months of the year.

Lentigines Vs Freckles: Differences Based on their Types

Let us take a look on the lentigines and the freckles based on their different types.

Types of Lentigines:

Below are some of the types of lentigines.

  1. Simple lentigines/Lentigine simplex:

    • These are extremely common, especially in patients with red colored hair.
    • They tend to arise in childhood and may increase in their number in young adults. It may be in rare cases that such skin lesions may erupt suddenly or occur in a vast number.
    • Simple lentigines may be found on any area of the skin, mucosal surface and in the conjunctiva.
    • They may appear dark brown in color and as small sharply demarcated macules of 3-5 mm in diameter.
    • Most of these types of lentigines remain static or disappear in adult life.
  2. Ink-spot lentigines:

    • Ink-spot lentigines are one more type of lentigines which are mostly found in the trunk portion. They occur as small, dense and black macule on the skin and may have irregular edge.
  3. Solar lentigines:

    • Solar lentigines are one more types of lentigines and are prominent on the face, forearms and dorsal aspects of the hands.
    • They are sun-induced skin lesions and are flat, uniformly brown and may be quite large.

Types of Freckles:

There are basically two types of freckles.

  1. Simple freckles. These are the hyper-pigmentation that appear on the skin as a result of genetic predisposition.
  2. Freckles that appear as sunburn. These are the permanent damage of the skin and appear as darker lesions with irregular edges and may be larger than the diameter of a pencil.

Lentigines vs Freckles: Differences based on the proliferation of melanocytes

We can distinguish between the two skin lesions, namely the lentigines and freckles based on the proliferation of melanocytes.

Melanocytes are actually a type of cell found in the epidermis of the skin and produce the melanin pigment which aids in protecting the skin from the dangerous effects of ultraviolet light.

Lentigines have an increased number of melanocytes; however though freckles have an increased amount of melanin, they have relatively normal number of melanocytes.

Lentigines Vs Freckles: Differences based on the change of their appearance with sun exposure

There are also differences between lentigines and freckles, based on the change of color or appearance with the sun exposure. Lentigines usually remain stable in their color regardless of their exposure to sunlight. However, freckles grow in their number as well as become dark with sunlight exposure.

Lentigines Vs Freckles: Differences based on their underlying causes

Let us talk about the causes for lentigines and Freckles in this section.

Underlying Causes of Lentigines:

  • Exposure to the sunlight is known to be the major cause of lentigines.
  • Some lentigines may be caused by genetics or family history
  • Some medical procedures like radiation therapy may also be an underlying cause for the appearance of lentigines on the skin

Underlying Causes of Freckles:

  • Genetics is involved in the occurrence of freckles.
  • Some diseases like Xeroderma pigmentosum, which is a rare disease that leads to an increased sensitivity to ultraviolet light like the sun light; can be a cause for freckles.
  • Exposure to sun for long time continuously can cause freckles.

Lentigines Vs Freckles: Differences in their treatments

There are certain differences in the treatment procedures of lentigines and Freckles. Let us know about them in brief here.

For treating lentigines, below methods may be used:

  • Laser surgery
  • Cryothrapy
  • Creams applied on the affected skin. These creams may include retinoids and bleaching agents in them.

Coming to the treatments for freckles, one thing could be mentioned that freckles are usually harmless and do not require any specific treatments. However, it is good to cover your skin and keep away from sun exposure if you have them on your skin. Talk to your doctor if you find your freckles problematic.

Now, finally it can be said that though freckles may be harmless in most cases, it is essential to take appropriate treatment for every condition that may look problematic or show any prominent symptoms. Lentigines and freckles both can be normal in many cases, however there can be some risks involved with their appearances. So, having a doctor's consultation and finding out the exact underlying causes and taking essential treatments for the skin lesions is the best thing one can do with the onset of freckles or lentigines.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: May 4, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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