What Causes Liver Spots on Face, Hands, and Skin & How to Get Rid of It?

Contrary to what the name indicates, liver spots have nothing to do with the liver but are more associated with senescence, which is a biological term for the process of aging. The reason for it being referred to as liver spot earlier is that they were considered to be occurring due to the malfunctioning of the liver and also appears similar in color to the liver. A survey conducted by the Boots No. 7 reveals that out of 1000 women more than 36% of the participants expressed more concern for their liver spots than face wrinkles or any other skin related disorders. Also, known as solar lentigines or lentigos or age spots, this is mostly prevalent among those who are beyond the age of 40 years. However, it can also occur among people who are below the age of 40 years as well.

What are Liver Spots?

What are Liver Spots?

Liver spots generally appear as flat or circular shaped and discolored spots at the back of the hands, arms and the face and in other areas which have a frequent exposure to direct sunlight. The discoloration can range from light tan to deep brown in color. This is also technically referred to as hyperpigmentation which results due to overproduction of melanin in particular areas of the skin, resulting in occurrence of dark patches causing the skin color to change. Such high concentration of melanin is observed on the upper layers of the skin or epidermis. This superficial deposit of pigment which is brownish in appearance is termed as lipofuscin. The measurement of these can range up to an inch in diameter and are similar in appearance to large freckles.

What Causes Liver Spots on Face, Hands, and Skin?

The most common reason associated with the occurrence of such black and brown blemish on the skin is the inability of the skin to regenerate due to reasons of aging or the effects of ultraviolet radiations from the sun. However, some nutritionists attribute such cause of occurrence to potential selenium deficiency, which is actually a mineral that is found in lower traces in the body.

Some of the other causes that are associated with the occurrence of liver spots on the face, hands and skin include:

  • Hyperpigmentation of the melanin can be a major reason responsible for the change of skin color. To protect the skin from potential damage from exposure to the sun, the melanin production in the skin increases resulting in liver spots.
  • There are situations where progression of melanoma gets hidden due to liver spots. Therefore, any alteration in the shape, size or color of the liver spots should immediately be referred to a physician.
  • The growth of human skin cells begin to slow down which is a clear indication of signs of liver spots. Over time liver spots may fade among younger people with skin regeneration.
  • The use of commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds can also be a reason for such occurrence.
  • Liver spots can also be attributed to genetic reasons.
  • Other factors may include pregnancy, stress, vitamin deficiency etc.

How to get Rid of Liver Spots?

There is nothing to worry if you have liver spots as with the right medication and treatment they can be removed or at least lightened.

  • It is a clear misconception that dark spots fade away gradually. It is required to be removed and the best way to do so is by using a scrub. Products with Vitamin C aid in the process of dark spot removal and help you to get rid of those patchy liver spots.
  • Lemon juice contains citric acid which cures liver spots and helps to maintain a clear and soft skin. It can be directly applied to the skin or mixed with sugar to form a paste.
  • Apple cider vinegar when mixed with a little amount of water and honey acts as an effective skin remedy. This can be applied depending on the intensity of the skin problem.
  • Castor oil when massaged on the dark spot area can help to brighten the skin texture. It can also be used in combination with almond oil, olive oil or coconut oil.
  • Sandalwood is an effective remedy to reduce hyperpigmentation or liver spots on the face, hands and skin.

There are other prescription medications as well such as hydroquinone, Retin-A age Spots remover and age spot lightening products that can show almost immediate effects when used as per prescription of a professional medical practitioner.

Prevention of Liver Spots on Face, Hands and Skin

Although, liver spots on face, hands, and skin can be treated in a number of ways, either through the use of over-the-counter medications or following home remedies, protecting the skin from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun and using of sunscreen lotions are the best options. This will not only help to prevent the occurrence of such skin problems but also help to maintain a healthy and youthful appearance. The possible prevention options include:

  • Making use of products containing 2% hydroquinone in combination with glycolic acid moisturizer can help to prevent the occurrence of age spots on the skin.
  • Sunscreen lotions with a Sun Protection Factor of at least 30 can help to prevent the pop up of new age spots and protects the skin against about 93% of the UV rays from the sun.
  • Always wear a hat with at least a 4-inch-wide brim to protect your face and neck from the sun. This will help limit the chances of developing liver spots on the skin.
  • Lips are the most neglected portion of the body when it comes to protection from the sun. Therefore, remember to apply a lip balm before heading outside.
  • Exposure to the sun rays for longer periods of time can significantly increase the chances of liver spots. So, take a break under a tree or any shade at frequent intervals to minimize the possibility of such occurrence.


Liver spots or age spots, as it is commonly known are harmless alterations to the skin texture that are painless. However, on certain occasion such occurrence can make it difficult for diagnosis of skin cancer. It can also be a reason for emotional distress for some people. Therefore, it is advised to take the help of a dermatologist or healthcare provider to devise the best treatment options.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 2, 2018

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