Overview of freckles
Freckles are small brown spots on your skin, often in areas exposed to the sun. In most cases, these are harmless. They are formed as a result of the overproduction of melanin, which is responsible for skin and hair color (pigmentation). In general, these are come from stimulating UV rays.
There are two classes of freckles: ephelides and solar freckles. Ephelides is the common type that most people think of as freckles. Solar freckles are dark patches of skin that appear during puberty. This includes age spots and sunspots. These two types can look similar, but they differ in other ways, such as their evolution.
- Ephelides describes flat freckles, light brown or red, and fades with less exposure to the sun. Aphids are more common in people with fair skin, although they are found in people with diverse skin. Regular use of sunscreen can prevent it from developing.
- Liver spots (also known as sunspots and freckles) look like large freckles, but they form after years of sun exposure. Liver spots are more common in older adults.
Causes of freckles
These are believed to develop as a result of a combination of genetic predisposition (genetics) and exposure to sunlight. Both sunlight and fluorescent tanning beds emit ultraviolet (UV) rays, which when absorbed by the skin boost the production of melanin by the dermal melanocytes. People with blonde or red hair, light-colored eyes, and fair complexion are particularly susceptible to the harmful effect of UV rays and are more likely to develop freckles. These are basically nothing more than an unusually thick deposition of melanin in one spot of skin.
Most epileptics and freckles can easily be diagnosed clinically by a health practitioner trained in examining the skin. If there is any suspicion that the brown mark might be cancer, the lesion can be monitored (with digital dermatoscopy) or removed for pathological examination.
Natural freckles do not need to be treated. It is not a sign of a skin problem. As you get older, they may become lighter on their own or disappear altogether, depending on what type of freckles they are.
If you don’t like the look of your freckles, treatments can help fade them. These include:
- Chemicals such as Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA)
- Laser treatments
- Cryotherapy (freezing the skin)
- Chemical peeling
- Creams like retinol, a form of vitamin A.
Your dermatologist will need to determine which treatment is best for you.
You should see a doctor if you have freckles:
- You have jagged boundaries
- More than 6mm in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser)
- Lifts your skin
- You have dark spots or multiple colors
- Start growing, changing size or colors
Freckles may go away on their own
Some are in it for a long time. Others are more prominent in summer due to increased sun exposure, but they fade during winter or by avoiding direct sunlight. Hereditary these may diminish as you age. Freckles from sun damage tend to increase with age.
When to see a doctor
These are not cancerous, but they can be confused with skin cancer. Unreasonable sun introduction is a danger factor for the two freckles and melanomas. Skin cancer is more common in people with fair skin than in people with darker skin tone.
If you notice changes in the size, color, or shape, see your doctor or dermatologist. They will be able to determine if this is a cause for concern.
These are common and benign, but many people want to get rid of them for cosmetic reasons. Invasive treatments such as laser therapy and chemical peels are effective, but they take a long time to heal and may cause dangerous side effects.
If you want to send freckle wrap, talk to your dermatologist to determine the best freckle removal method for you. Regardless of which method you choose, it is important to practice safe sun care afterward to help prevent new freckles from appearing.
People can prevent or reduce the appearance of freckles by protecting their skin from the sun’s rays. Protecting the skin from sunlight will not reduce the appearance of existing freckles, but it may prevent forming.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends the following tips for protecting skin from the sun:
- Wear a waterproof sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection, SPF 30 or higher
- Long-sleeved hood, hat, and sunglasses
- Stay in the shade when the sun is strongest, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Apply sunscreen every two hours outside or after swimming or sweating
- Avoid tanning beds