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What can we do about freckles

Freckles: What Causes Them and How Can You Treat Them? 

Grace Michaeli

As winter fades away and spring is just around the corner, those of you with fair skin are probably getting ready to stay away from the outcomes of a sun-kissed complexion. Freckles can generally appear on any area of your body, but are more commonly visible on cheeks, shoulders, noses and even on the back of your neck. But don’t let those flat brown spots keep you away from a summary weekend away, because there are certainly a lot of things you can do to prevent those flecks or freckles from sprinkling across your face. 


However, you might be wondering why is it that your skin is more prone to freckling? Or perhaps why the freckles on your skin last longer than on others? Also, you might be wondering how to tell freckles apart from other skin blemishes? And to the million dollar question: how can you treat them? Seek no more – here’s a full guide on everything you may have been asking about those stubborn spots. 


How are Freckles Caused? 

Though having a tendency to freckling is a genetic matter, exposure to the sun (as well as other forms of UV rays) and your skin type are actually to be blamed. For a more biological explanation: freckles appear when people with low levels of melanin (dark skin pigments) experience a melanin build up under their skin, which is what usually happens after a prolonged exposure to the sun. 


Mostly, people who suffer from multiple freckles most likely have light skin and either blond or red hair. Those people also find it harder to tan, and instead of acquiring a darker skin tone, often burn faster. After the soreness wears off, they are left with brownish blemishes. In addition, the more you stay in the sun the darker will your existing freckles become.  


light skin and either blond or red hair
Those with freckles usually have light skin and either blond or red hair


How Can You Identify Freckles? 

Yet, not all spots are necessarily freckles; before you begin treating those blemishes, you should identify them. In fact, they could either be moles or sun spots (otherwise known as liver or age spots). The differences, though, are fairly easy to recognize. 


Sun spots or freckles? The first indication is the age in which those spots appear. Freckles are more common in children, liver spots often appear in people aged 50 or older. As such, freckles can fade away with time as sun spots manifest at an increasing rate with age. But if that’s not enough to help you tell them apart, another distinct difference is their shape. While both have well-defined edges, freckles have a rather irregular shape and can vary in size. 


Moles or freckles? These are much easier to differentiate as in most cases, all you have to do is feel the spot and see whether it’s flat or raised. If it’s the latter, you are most definitely dealing with a mole. But if that test fails, there are other signs. For instance, moles can appear anywhere on your body, regardless of whether that part was exposed to the sun. Furthermore, moles are often round and can either be black or dark brown. Last but not least, moles can be substantially larger and reach 6 mm while freckles won’t usually grow larger than 2 mm. 


Moles or freckles
Do you have moles or freckles


How Can You Treat Them? 

The good news about freckles is that they aren’t harmless in any way. So if you’re looking to remove them or lighten them, it’s probably for cosmetics reasons. Home remedies are very popular in such cases. Some useful options are lemons and honey; rich with vitamin C, the citrus can be useful in brightening those dark spots, while the antioxidants in the honey can have a similar effect. 


But if you’re not the DIY type of guy, your best option is going for prevention. Or in other words, stay safe in the sun. There are numerous types of sunscreens out there, however the American Academy of Dermatology suggests using a water-resistant option with an SPF of at least 30. Moreover, as weird as it may sound, you should apply sunscreen even on wintry days, and in fact, anytime you leave your house. Last but not least, if possible, you should cover your arms and shoulders. Even if you don’t tend to freckle, no one should take sun protection lightly. 


Finally, it’s important to remember that though freckles are indeed not a health hazard, having them in abundance usually implies you have been spending too much time in the sun. Remember to treat your skin according to its type and genetics, it won’t only improve your appearance it will also slow down the aging process – which is of course the cherry on top of your sprinkled complexion. 


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