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Lentigo Simplex

Last updated Oct. 27, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP


Microscopic pathology image of skin showing simple lentigo.

What are the other Names for this Condition? (Also known as/Synonyms)

  • Actinic Lentigo
  • Ink Spot Lentigo
  • Solar Lentigo

What is Lentigo Simplex? (Definition/Background Information)

  • Lentigo Simplex (or Simple Lentigo) is a benign tumor of skin that chiefly forms on the sun-exposed areas of the body
  • It is a very common condition that appears as pigmented skin spots that are flat. Lentigo Simplex occurs in a wide range of individuals including young children and elderly adults
  • The cause of Lentigo Simplex is generally unknown; although the risk factors include sun damage, ultraviolet light exposure, and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
  • In a majority of cases, no treatment in necessary, unless it causes worrisome symptoms or cosmetic concerns in the individual
  • A simple surgical excision of the lesion is considered curative. The prognosis for Lentigo Simplex is excellent with suitable treatment

Who gets Lentigo Simplex? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • Lentigo Simplex is a benign skin condition that may occur in a wide age range of individuals; both children and adults may be affected
  • Males and females are affected and there is no gender bias observed
  • Individuals of all racial and ethnic background may be affected. Worldwide, no geographical localization of the condition has been reported

What are the Risk Factors for Lentigo Simplex? (Predisposing Factors)

Currently, the following risk factors have been identified for Lentigo Simplex:

  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
  • Prolonged sun exposure, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light
  • Use of tanning beds, tanning parlors
  • Exposure to intense sun for long periods during the course of work or due to regular participation in outdoor sports activities
  • People living in geographical regions where hot-dry, desert-like climatic conditions prevail

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases ones chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.

Also, not having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will not get the condition. It is always important to discuss the effect of risk factors with your healthcare provider.

What are the Causes of Lentigo Simplex? (Etiology)

  • The cause of development of Lentigo Simplex is unknown. Some researchers believe that it may be due to exposure to sunlight
  • Genetic mutations have been detected in some cases, which are currently being characterized

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Lentigo Simplex?

The signs and symptoms of Lentigo Simplex include:

  • It generally occurs as multiple skin spots
  • The spots are pigmented and flat
  • It is slow-growing and may range in size from 1-10 mm
  • The lesions are usually painless and non-itchy
  • It may appear anywhere on the body, except the palms and soles. Lentigo Simplex is mostly observed in the sun-exposed areas (head and neck, arms, etc.). 

How is Lentigo Simplex Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of Lentigo Simplex may involve the following:

  • A thorough medical history and physical examination
  • Dermoscopy: It is a diagnostic tool where a dermatologist examines the skin using a special magnified lens
  • Wood’s lamp examination: In this procedure, the healthcare provider examines the skin using ultraviolet light. It is performed to examine the change in skin pigmentation
  • Skin biopsy: A skin biopsy is performed and sent to a laboratory for a pathological examination. The pathologist examines the biopsy under a microscope. After putting together clinical findings, special studies on tissues (if needed) and with microscope findings, the pathologist arrives at a definitive diagnosis

Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

What are the possible Complications of Lentigo Simplex?

  • Lentigo Simplex is a very common and benign skin condition. It does not cause any significant complication
  • However, some individuals may have concerns regarding their appearance, especially when it appears on the face

How is Lentigo Simplex Treated?

The treatment of Lentigo Simplex may involve the following:

  • In a majority of cases, removal of the tumor is not necessary, unless it causes bothersome signs and symptoms such as cosmetic issues
  • The treatment of choice is a complete surgical excision, which can result in a cure

How can Lentigo Simplex be Prevented?

Currently, there are no known methods to prevent Lentigo Simplex occurrence. However, some of the risk factors may be recognized and controlled. These include:

  • Avoid or minimize sun exposure
  • Limit the use of tanning beds, tanning parlors
  • Smoking cessation

What is the Prognosis of Lentigo Simplex? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

The prognosis for Lentigo Simplex is excellent with appropriate treatment, since it is a benign tumor.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Lentigo Simplex:

  • There is no evidence to prove that the intake of certain foods have an influence on Lentigo Simplex development
  • Cleaning the skin too hard with strong chemicals or soaps may aggravate the skin condition. Care must be taken avoid strong soaps and chemicals that could potentially worsen the condition
  • The presence of dirt on the body is not a causative factor for the condition. However, it helps to be clean and hygienic, which may help the condition from getting worse

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Jan. 6, 2016
Last updated: Oct. 27, 2018