Freckles are small brown spots that appear on the skin that usually develop in childhood as a result of exposure to the sun. They typically appear on the face, but are often found on the shoulders and arms. They are caused by increased pigmentation (melanin) in the top layer of the skin. Melanin is a natural substance that gives color to hair, skin, and the iris of the eye, and it serves to protect the skin against UV radiation. People with light skin and fair hair are more prone to developing freckles. It’s rare for a freckle to develop into skin cancer. However, if you notice any irregularities or changes in appearance, visit your dermatologist to have it inspected.
Common features of freckles include: Small brown spots on the skin that can become more visible with increased sun exposure Commonly found in people with lighter complexion
Freckles develop as a reaction to sun exposure. When UV light penetrates the upper layer of skin, pigment-producing cells (called melanocytes) produce pigment at an accelerated rate in order to give the skin future protection against the sun. Freckling is a result of uneven melanin distribution in the skin.
Good skin care is essential for maintaining healthy, beautiful skin. Keep your skin clean and clear by using gentle cleansers and exfoliators. Use a daily moisturizer to keep your skin adequately hydrated. Protect your skin from the sun by using a sunscreen that offers protection against harmful UV rays.
Safeguarding your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays can often prevent sun damage and the appearance of freckles. Since individuals with freckles have fair skin, they will be more prone to sun damage and have an increased risk of skin cancer.
Limit sun exposure: Reducing your time in the sun is perhaps the easiest way to avoid damage to your skin caused by UV rays. When outdoors, set a time limit and seek shade when necessary. Also keep in mind that UV radiation is the strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Use Sunscreen: Sunscreens are an essential part of protection against the sun. Look for sunscreens that are labeled “Broad Spectrum”. They are often the most effective and offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Make sure to apply generously and frequently.
Cover and protect: Wrap-around sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and clothing that covers your arms and legs, can offer extra protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. Look for any changes in your skin: If you notice changes in existing freckles or new skin growths, consult with a dermatologist to determine if the symptoms may be precancerous.
Treatment is not usually required or requested for freckles.
Over the counter products that contain Hydroquinone, Arbutin, Retinoids (Vitamin A) and Kojic acid are helpful in lightening and reducing the appearance of freckles.
In some cases, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments can improve freckles and other facial pigmentation problems. Chemical peels can also be used to reduce the appearance of freckles.