Freckles are flat, circular small spots of melanin on human skin in people of fair complexion. The spots develop randomly on the skin, especially after repeated exposure to sunlight.
They may vary in colour - they may be red, yellow, tan, light-brown, brown, or black. They are usually more often seen in the summer, especially among lighter-skinned people and people with light or red hair. Both men and women get freckles at an equal rate.
There are two basic types of freckles - ephelides and lentigines.
Ephelides, are flat red or light-brown spots that typically appear during the sunny months and fade in the winter.
Lentigines, are small tan, brown, or black spots which tend to be darker than an ephelis-type freckle and which do not fade in the winter.
Freckles are most commonly found on the face, although they may appear on any skin exposed to the sun. Freckles are rare on infants , and are very common among children aged 5 to 15 years. They are usually less common on adults.
The basic cause of freckles are some special cells in the skin that produce a pigment called melanin. If you have melanin in your body, going on accumulating at one place, then it may result in freckles age spots. Freckles are influenced by genetic factor also.
Hormone abnormalities can cause freckles since estrogen over-stimulates pigment-producing cells, causing them to generate excess color when exposed to sunlight.
Fair skin is another main cause for freckle. There is less overall melanin in fair skin to absorb UV light, therefore pigment cells produce melanin at an increased rate.
The main cause of freckles or skin spots is rays from the sun. There are steps you can take to prevent or fade them. Freckles are most common in people with fair skin, blue eyes, blonde hair, but especially red hair. If you have freckles, you weren't born with them. They often appear in children as young as two years old and increase over the years due to sun exposure.
They occur mainly in sun-exposed areas such as the face, shoulders, chest, arms, and legs. There is a genetic predisposition to freckles, meaning if one of your parents had them, you are likely to have them too. Freckles often disappear later in life.
The basic cause of freckles is special cells in the skin that produce a pigment called melanin. Melanin is what gives skin its color. Sunlight hitting the skin causes the production of more melanin in order to protect the skin layers underneath. If you have melanin that builds up in one place, it will result in freckles. Sunlight also causes freckles already present to become darker.
Other reasons for pigmented spots on the skin:
- Hormones. Dark skin that appears during pregnancy or while on birth control pills is called melasma, or the mask of pregnancy. Sun exposure makes these patches and spots even darker.
- Sunlight. Flat, large spots on the skin in middle age are caused by sun exposure, and are known as age spots, liver spots, or lentigines.
- Skin cancer. This can develop on the skin causing growths that have irregular borders and strange colors such as black, red or pink. Look for spots that don't heal, have lack of symmetry, or are of a large size. See a dermatologist if you have any spots on your skin that look suspicious.
Some people do not like their freckles. There are steps that can be taken to prevent them, lessen their appearance, and fade them considerably.
Several safe and effective methods are available to help lighten or reduce the appearance of freckles: Frequently, multiple or a combination of treatments may be required for best results. Not everyone's skin will improve with similar treatments and freckles can easily recur with repeated UV exposures.
Bleaching or fading creams: Products containing hydroquinone and kojic acid can be purchased with and without a prescription. Higher concentrations of hydroquinone (over 2%) require a prescription. These products can help lighten freckles if they are applied consistently over a period of months. Bleaching or fading creams are most effective in combination with sun avoidance and sun protection.
Retinoids: Sometimes used in conjunction with other bleaching creams, tretinoin (vitamin A acid, Retin-A), tazarotene (Tazorac),adapalene (Differin) also may help lighten freckles when applied consistently over a period of several months.
Cryosurgery: A light freeze with liquid nitrogen in the physician's office can be used to treat some types of freckles. Not all spots respond to freezing or burning.
Laser treatment: Multiple types of lasers may help lighten and decrease the appearance of freckles safely and effectively. Like cryosurgery, this is a simple and safe procedure with a high success rate and a low risk of scarring or skin discoloration.
Photofacials or Intense Pulsed Light treatments are another method to lighten and remove freckles. This is not a true laser technique but an intense light procedure.
Chemical peels can also help lighten freckles and improve irregular pigmentation.