A lentigo (plural lentigines) is a small, pigmented flat or slightly raised spot with a clearly defined edge that is surrounded by normal-appearing skin. Lentigo or lentigines may evolve slowly over years, or they may appear suddenly. They may occur anywhere on the body and vary in colour from tan-brown to black. Viewed under the microscope a lentigo shows an increased number of normal melanocytes (skin cells that produce the pigment melanin that produces skin colour). Melanocytes appear to replace keratinocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis.
Although lentigines are benign (non-cancerous) by nature they must be carefully examined to differentiate them from early pigmented skin cancers such as melanoma.
Lentigines have been classified into many different types depending on what they look like, where they appear on the body, causative factors, and whether they are associated to other diseases or conditions.
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