What are Freckles?
Freckles are small, harmless brown spots or marks that appear on the skin. Formed as a result of the overproduction of melanin, a pigment responsible for skin and hair color, Freckles are formed when the pigment forms clusters beneath and skin and is exposed to sunlight.
There are two types of Freckles:
- Ephelides – Flat tan spots of 1mm to 2mm that are slightly reddish or light brown in colour and typically appear in the sunny months. They are a hereditary trait.
- Lentigines – larger pigmented spots or freckles on skin, often darker than Ephelides, that appear from a previous sunburn or skin damage
Freckles symptoms vary from individual to individual depending upon their skin type, colour, lifestyle, and bodily traits. Mostly they are visible on the face or body of the person affected. Some of the most common symptoms across different types and different ages have been listed below for your understanding:
- Flat small tan or light brown spots on sun-exposed skin
- Change in skin colour and shape
P.S. On some rare occasions, Freckles also are the symptoms of skin cancer
Who is at Risk?
Freckles risk factors differ from individual to individual as skin qualities, age, and body functions have a role to play. Freckles are mostly formed due to natural environment and genetics. Certain red flags for when an individual might be at risk are:
- People who get frequent sunburns
- Anyone whose skin produces a lot of pheomelanin and eumelanin
- Anyone who does not stay protected from UV rays
- Anyone with brown, red or blonde hair
- People who get tanned easily or have dark skin
- People with a history of freckles on face are likely to get freckles again
The Freckles causes differ according to which type of Freckles you have been affected by. However, we have discussed some possible reasons for freckles for you down below:
- Prolonged exposure to sunlight or fluorescent tanning lights that emit ultraviolet (UV) rays
- Genetic predisposition (inheritance)
- Heavy production and disposition of melanin at one spot in the skin
- Genes MC1R, IRF4, ASIP, TYR, BNC2, etc
How is Freckles Diagnosed?
Freckles are usually identified by the one affected on the face of their skin. It can be seen in the mirror and identified as dark spots or marks usually in the form of a cluster. But it is possible that these dark spots are sunburns and so a doctor conducts a series of tests to identify the underlying reason. These tests include:
- Physical Examination: Through physical examination, the doctor checks Freckles and identifies its shape, size, appearance, colour, and areas that they appear in the body
- Gene testing: A series of tests are conducted and a family history of freckles is to identify if gene mutation is causing freckles
- Blood tests: The presence of melanin pigment is identified to test if the body is overproducing or forming clusters of melanin in the body, thereby forming clusters.
How to remove freckles permanently?
Freckles are harmless and usually do not need any treatment. However, if one needs Freckles treatment for cosmetic reasons, it can be done based on the type that you have been infected with. Some cosmetic Freckles’ cure are:
- Medicinal Treatment: Doctors advice over-the-counter medicines for freckles that contain alpha hydroxy acids, azelaic acid, vitamin C, Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA), phenol, etc that fade the freckles marks
- Laser Treatment: Fractionated lasers resurface by targeting the middle layer of the dermis and expelling the pigmented cells
- Chemical Peels: lighten freckles and improve irregular pigmentation with chemical peels
- Photofacials: Intense pulsed light treatments to lighten or remove freckles.
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How can Freckles be prevented?
For people who want to avoid freckles, prevention is the key! While there is no prevention from the genetic disposition of freckles, here are some ways to prevent from it otherwise:
- Using a water-resistant sunscreen with at least 30 SPF all the time
- Prevent from prolonged sun exposure
- Wear wide-brimmed hats when walking out in the sun
- Avoid the peak sun hours i.e. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Checking on melanin levels and consulting doctor for its regulation
- Using AHA infused toner or phenol skincare products