A diagnosis is based on the appearance of the skin, especially if you are over 40 and have had a lot of sun exposure over the years. A liver spot that looks irregular may be biopsied to confirm that it is not skin cancer.
No treatment is needed in most cases. You can improve the appearance of your skin by using skin bleaching lotions or creams. Most bleaching lotions use hydroquinone. This can cause blisters or skin reactions in some people. See your health care provider before starting treatment if you are worried.
Freezing (cryotherapy) or laser treatment can be used to destroy the liver spots.
Liver spots are not medically dangerous. They are permanent skin changes that may affect the cosmetic appearance of the skin.
Liver spots are harmless and painless, but they may affect the appearance. This can cause emotional distress.
Occasionally, liver spots may make it difficult to diagnose skin cancers.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:
You have liver spots and want them removed
You develop any new symptoms, especially changes in the appearance of any liver spot
Protect your skin from the sun by taking the following precautions:
Wear protective clothing such as hats, long-sleeved shirts, long skirts, or pants.
Use sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Try to avoid sun exposure at midday, when sunlight is most intense.
Use high-quality sunscreens, preferably with sun protection factor (SPF) ratings of at least 30. Apply sunscreen at least a half hour before exposure, and reapply often. Use sunscreen in the winter, too.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.