Freckles are small brown spots on your skin, formed as a result of overproduction of melanin.
- Freckles occur often in areas that get sun exposure. They come from ultraviolet (UV) radiation stimulation.
- Freckles are harmless.
- They can be genetic in some cases.
How are freckles caused?
Ephelides: Sun exposure and sunburns cause these types of freckles. Your face, the back of your hands, and upper body are affected by these freckles. People with lighter skin tones and hair color generally get these, so do people of Caucasian and Asian descent.
Solar lentigines: Caucasians and adults over 40 years old tend to get these.
Causative factors for freckles
Natural Environment | Genetics
There are two types of melanin: Pheomelanin and Eumelanin.
The individuals in whom Pheomelanin is produced by the skin aren’t protected from UV radiation and they have a tendency to have:
- Blonde or Red hair
- Light colored skin
- Skin which tans poorly
The individuals in whom Eumelanin is produced more by the skin are better protected from skin damage by UV light. They have:
- Darker skin tone
- Black or brown colored hair
- Skin which tans easily
Are freckles dangerous?
Freckles are not threatening, but you can just check your freckles for:
- Asymmetry: If the halves don’t match, it can be worrisome.
- Uneven border.
- Different colors of freckles,
- Size is bigger than 1/4 inch.
- Any change in elevation, shape, size, and color.
Inform your doctor or a dermatologist if you find any of the above changes.
Preventing more freckles
It is possible to prevent freckles and speed up their disappearance. As suggested by The American Academy of Dermatology, use a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on your skin. After application, wait 15 minutes before heading outdoors. It is advisable that this is done on all days, despite the weather conditions.
Lightening freckles have been possible with certain OTC products that are applied on the skin. Acid and chemical peels are also available online. To avoid skin irritation, always patch-test if you are using a facial peel at home. If your skin starts to burn, wash off the peel immediately.
Laser therapy can lighten or remove freckles on the face, chest, on the upper shoulders and on legs above the knees.
Lasers resurface by targeting the water present inside the layers of the skin. Laser drills through the layers and it reaches the middle layer of the dermis. The old epidermal pigmented cells get expelled. This leads to the formation of new collagen and thus an improvement in freckles.