December 8, 1975

Senile Freckles

JAMA. 1975;234(10):1059. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03260230059029

I DO NOT share the wry notions of the younger generation that the world began the day they were born, or that they invented sex. But the mere fact of having been around for a long time brings concerns and problems. I deal with one of the simpler ones—splotches, freckles, and old-age marks.

Few people ever think of freckles as badges of distinction that are achieved with maturity and overmaturity. Such are the freckles of age. They are called lentigo senilis in the loud, barbed enthusiasm of our dermatologic brethren. Age has its compensations, but most of us would agree that wisdom has not ruffled the surface of the large seas of ignorance that surround the topic of senile freckles. Fortunately, an occasional person who grows old grows wise, too.

These little, brown, blotchy, flat marks are found in most people when they are middle-aged, whether they admit it—or them—or