Liver Spots vs. Skin Melanoma: How to Tell the Difference

Liver spots and skin melanoma can be difficult to distinguish from one another, and are often confused with each other. Liver spots naturally occur as the skin ages and as melanin surfaces more easily. Liver spots are harmless and non-cancerous, but can become unsightly if severe enough.

Skin melanoma, on the other hand, is a cancerous spot on the skin that can look like a liver spot in appearance. Skin melanoma can be deadly if left untreated, so it is extremely important that individuals learn to tell the difference between liver spots and skin melanoma. Read on to learn more about liver spots and skin melanoma, and how to distinguish between the two.

What Do Liver Spots Look Like?

Liver spots are generally harmless, and occur as the skin ages and thins. As the skin ages, the layers become thin, allowing melanin to surface and become more visible. This appearance of melanin results in spots on the skin. Sun damage is a direct cause of age and liver spots, and the more sun exposure you receive, the more likely you are to develop liver spots. Liver spots are especially common on the backs of the hands, as this area generally receives the most sun exposure. In addition, the hands tend to have thinner skin than the rest of the body, and they are often not covered by sunscreen or protective clothing.

In appearance, liver spots are flat and can vary in color, usually from light to dark brown. They can also vary in shapes and sizes, but generally, they resemble freckles or discolored areas of the skin. The liver spots are not dangerous, but can become unattractive if they are bad enough. For this reason, there are several skin lightening products available if one desires to get rid of them.

What Does Skin Melanoma Look Like?

Unlike harmless liver and age spots, skin melanoma is cancerous and should be treated promptly. It is even becoming more common in recent years, as more people are spending more time in the sun. While skin melanoma can look like liver spots in appearance, there are some key differences. Skin melanoma normally starts as a small growth on the skin, and often protrudes slightly. The color can very from light brown to black, and it can be virtually any size or shape.

Unlike liver spots, they usually extend upwards from the skin and have irregular or jagged edges. At times, skin melanoma will crack open and ooze liquid discharge or blood. Skin melanoma often changes in shape or size, and grow as the cancer spreads. This is one of the biggest signs of melanoma, so if you notice a skin spot that changes in size, color or shape, it is important to have it examined by a professional immediately.

Skin melanoma can be found anywhere on the surface of the body, most commonly areas that have had heavy sun exposure. Common areas include the neck, face, ears, back, scalp, legs and arms. While skin melanoma can be removed and treated by a professional, it is important to see a doctor as soon as you notice any irregular spots on the skin. The earlier you catch skin melanoma, the better your chances are for a full recovery.