Skin spots are usually caused by the sun and are generally harmless — though some spots are actually skin cancer or can lead to the disease. But even if spots are benign, many people seek treatment to improve their appearance.

Associated terms for skin spots include age spots, liver spots, lentigo or lentigines, and sun damage. The condition includes:

Brown spots

Brown spots include melasma, a condition that causes gray-brown facial patches and is much more common among women than men. While it can fade on its own, some people have it for years, or their whole life.


Freckles are small, flat brown spots that sit on top of the skin. While they are most commonly seen on those with fair skin (especially redheads), they can also appear on those with darker skin, too.

Red spots

Sun damage can cause red spots called actinic keratoses (i.e., solar keratosis), which can sometimes turn into skin cancer, specifically squamous cell skin cancer.