I Hate the Brown Spots on My Hands. Should I Try Lemon Juice?

In our practice, the most common brown spots we see on the backs of the hand are called “lentigines”. People call them liver spots, but they are not related to the function of the liver. They are caused by ultraviolet radiation exposure from the sun or tanning salons.

Some people have found that lemon juice can fade brown spots, but we generally don’t recommend it for several reasons. Lemon juice contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C) which can lighten the brown spots. However, it is rapidly oxidized when exposed to air and is quite unstable. High doses are usually needed which often irritates the skin.

In addition, if the lemon juice is left on the skin and the skin is exposed to sunlight, a painful blistering rash develops and leaves behind unsightly brown spots that may take months to fade. This condition is called “phytophotodermatitis”. We often see this in patients that work as bartenders at beach bars (they squeeze lemons into drinks and then go out in the sun).

There are much better options for treating brown spots than using lemon juice.

Topical agents that can work for these spots include hydroquinone creams and topical tretinoin (both prescription). Over-the-counter cosmeceutical lightening agent options can be helpful as well.

For those into natural remedies, licorice extracts can be used. They tend to be less irritating and have less risk of sun-reactivity. Other agents that can be considered include kojic acid, aloesin, and arbutin.

Any specific recommendations on what product is best for someone should come from a dermatologist or other qualified health professional.

Also, remember that not all brown spots are benign. Early melanomas can sometimes be subtle. When in doubt, it’s best to be screened by a physician!

If you or someone you know is experiencing brown spots on their hands and is contemplating treating them with lemon juice, call Lumen Laser & Aesthetics today at (727) 824-8399 or fill out our online contact form.

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