What is Lentigo Simplex: Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Treatment, How is it Different From Melanoma?

What is Lentigo Simplex?

Lentigo simplex is a small dark spot that has defined edges. It can occur in any part of the body and is most often caused by sun exposure or radiation exposure.
In lentigo, there is an increase in the production of melanocytes

Lentigo is of many types and one amongst them is lentigo simplex. Lentigo simplex does not occur due to skin damage. The cause is unknown but it is seen developing usually between birth and adult childhood.(1) Lentigo does not change color on sun exposure, unlike the other skin condition that changes in color or worsen when exposed to sun.

Causes and Risk Factors of Lentigo Simplex

Lentigo simplex is not related to medical conditions. It is seen appearing from birth to early adulthood.

Similarly, the risk factors for lentigo simplex are unknown. There are a few risk factors for other types of lentigo, which include:

  • Sunburns
  • Aging
  • Using tanning beds
  • Frequent sun exposure
  • Phototherapy

Symptoms of Lentigo Simplex

Lentigo simplex can occur in any part of the body. It appears as a dark-colored spot that does not pain, itch, or causes any type of discomfort.

These are benign spots, which mean it does not carry the risk of developing into cancer.

The characteristic of lentigo spots are as follows:

  • Jagger or smooth edges
  • 3-15 mm in diameter
  • Dark brown or black in color
  • Round or oval in shape

Lentigo simplex spots are often mistaken for freckles, but they do not change color when exposed to sunlight as freckles do.

And also lentigo simplex appears as a single spot and not in clusters.

How is Lentigo Simplex Different From Melanoma?

Melanoma is a skin cancer that occurs in the cells that give color to the skin. It is caused due to exposure to ultraviolet rays either from sunlight or tanning beds.

Both lentigo simplex and melanoma can occur anywhere in the body, with melanoma being more common in the parts of the body that are more exposed to the sun.

The difference between lentigo simplex and melanoma are:

  • Lentigo is round in shape while melanoma has an irregular shape.
  • The edges of lentigo simplex are smooth or jagged while melanoma has an irregular edge.
  • The color of lentigo is dark brown or black and is uniform all over. Melanoma has shades of tan, black, or brown color. It may also appear white, grey, red, blue, and even pink in color.
  • The size of lentigo is between 3-15 mm and the melanoma spots are wider than 6mm or are the size of a pea.
  • Lentigo simplex does not grow in size while a melanoma grows over weeks or months.

There is an A-B-C-D-E guide that can help you determine whether the skin spot is melanoma or not(2)

If any of the answers to the below question is yes, there are chances of the skin spot to be a melanoma.

A: Asymmetrical- Does the spot present has an irregular shape?

B: Border- Are the borders jagged?

C: Color- Is there an uneven color on the skin spot?

D: Diameter- Is the diameter larger than that of a pea?

E: Evolving- Has the spot grown bigger over the past few weeks or months?

Treatment for Lentigo Simplex

Lentigo simplex spots do not cause any discomfort. Just because they resemble other types of spots that can be cancerous, it is good to get them checked by a dermatologist.

There are numerous procedures that can be used to remove the spot or lentigo simplex.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels help in removing the dead skin cells on hand, face, and neck. To remove lentigo simplex a chemical solution is applied to the spot during the chemical peel procedure. It helps exfoliate and remove unhealthy skin cells.

Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy is a procedure of freezing the spot on the skin with liquid nitrogen. This treatment is used for cancerous and precancerous skin spots as well.

It takes 10 days for the skin to heal after the procedure and does not leave any scar behind.

Laser Therapy

Laser lights are given on the lentigo skin spots to remove them. It has a quicker recovery time.

Lentigo simplex is the most common type of lentigo and has dark brown or black color. It does not cause any discomfort and is not a serious condition.

There are various therapies to remove it, but make sure you get it treated by an experienced medical professional only.

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