Know the basics
What is freckles?
Freckles are small brown spots on the skin. Sometimes, they may vary in color from reddish, yellow, tan, light brown, brown, to black. Freckles can become more visible with sun exposure. These spots often appear in group, and most commonly on cheeks, noses, arms, and upper shoulders.
Freckles do not threaten your health, or change into skin cancer.
There are two common types of freckles: normal freckles and sunburn freckles. Sunburn freckles are darker and bigger. They appear where people frequently get severe sunburns such as upper back and shoulders.
How common is freckles?
Freckles are extremely common. They may appear on people as young as 1 or 2 years of age. It is more apparent in lighter-skinned people and people with light or red hair.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of freckles?
Freckles are very small spots on the skin that have darker color than surrounding area. When exposed to sunlight, freckles can be more visible. Some scientists suggest that sunlight exposure can increase the number of freckles.
When should I see my doctor?
There is no need to treat freckles as they are harmless. However, freckles can affect your appearance, causing the skin to look unsightly. If you really want to remove them, please consult with your doctor to make sure you are right candidate for freckles treatments.
Know the causes
What causes freckles?
Genetics and sun exposure are the causes of freckles. Genetics determine the amount of melanin – dark pigment produced by melanocytes. In most cases, the number of melanocytes tissues is the same over an area of skin. In spots that have freckles, the production of melanin is more compare to the surrounding skin area.
Sunburn can worsen the symptoms of freckles. It promotes melanocytes cells to produce more melanin as a natural response to protect your skin from sun damage.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for freckles?
There are many risk factors for freckles, such as:
- Heredity: freckles are determined by genetics, so if your parents have freckles, it means you may also have freckles.
- People, typically children, who have skin and eyes are light in color.
- Prolonged sun exposure.
- Using hormonal treatments.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is freckles diagnosed?
Freckles are easily seen by human eyes, but a full-body skin examination can evaluate your condition more carefully. People with freckle often have more sensitive skin. A careful examination helps your dermatologist to make a detailed skincare routine for your skin.
How is freckles treated?
Freckles are harmless and don’t need to be treated. But if you feel frustrated by having freckles and want to seek a treatment, the following methods can help you remove freckles effectively:
- Bleaching or fading creams: products containing hydroquinone are commonly used to fight against dark skin pigmentation. You can buy them without a prescription, but you need to protect your skin, as the products can make your skin very sensitive to sun exposure.
- Retinoid: this medication is made of vitamin A and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to lighten skin.
- Cosmetic procedures: there are many available treatments for freckles removal, such as cryosurgery, laser therapy, intense pulsed light therapy (IPL), or chemical peels.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage freckles?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you prevent freckles:
- Use sunscreen with SPF suitable for your need;
- Wear sun-protective clothing: wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, and sunglasses;
- Use umbrella or stand under the shade;
- Limit going out between 10 am to 4 pm;
- People with hereditary freckles have to start sun protection early in childhood.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Moles, Freckles, and Skin Tags. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/moles-freckles-skin-tags?page=3. Accessed July 21, 2016.
Freckles. http://www.medicinenet.com/freckles/article.htm. Accessed July 21, 2016.
What are freckles?. http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/freckles.html. Accessed July 29, 2016.