What are Freckles?
Freckles are small, brown spots that appear on the skin, usually as a result of exposure to the sun. They are a type of pigmentation and are completely harmless, but many people choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons. Freckles can appear anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the face, neck, arms and hands.
Types of Freckles
There are two main types of freckles:
- Ephelides: They’re usually what people think about when someone mentions “freckles”. Ephelides are usually caused by sun exposure and appear on body parts that are more exposed to the sun (like the back, neck, face, and chest). They look flat and usually red or tan-to-brown in color. They tend to fade with age.
- Solar lentigines: Solar lentigines are usually seen in people aged over 40, and are usually yellow, red, brown in appearance, or comes across as dark patches of skin. You might also know them as liver spots. They’re usually caused by repeated sun exposure over time.
Are Freckles Dangerous?
Freckles are not dangerous and do not cause any health problems. However, excessive sun exposure can cause an increase in the number and size of freckles, which can be a sign of sun damage to the skin. It’s important to protect your skin from the sun to prevent further damage and to minimize the appearance of freckles.
What Causes Freckles?
Freckles are caused by an overproduction of melanin, the pigment that gives our skin its colour. This overproduction can be triggered by sun exposure, genetics, and other factors such as hormonal changes. Freckles are more likely to appear in people with fair skin, as they have less melanin, to begin with. While freckles are not harmful, they can be a cosmetic concern for some people.
What Triggers Freckles
Sun exposure is the main trigger for freckles. When skin is exposed to UV rays, it triggers an increase in melanin production, which can cause freckles to form or become darker in colour.
Some people are more prone to developing freckles due to genetics. If your parents have freckles, you’re more likely to develop them as well.
Hormonal changes can also trigger the formation of freckles. This is why some women may notice an increase in freckles during pregnancy or menopause.
Certain medications can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, which can trigger the formation of freckles.
Freckles can become more noticeable as we age, as the skin becomes thinner and loses some of its ability to protect itself from the sun.
Can Skincare Get Rid Of Freckles?
While freckles are harmless, some people may wish to reduce the appearance of freckles on their skin. Skincare products can be an effective way to lighten freckles and even out the skin tone. However, not all skincare products are created equal, and it is important to choose the right products to get the best results.
Ingredients to Look For
When choosing skincare products to reduce the appearance of freckles, look for products that contain the following ingredients:
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help to brighten the skin and reduce the appearance of freckles.
Kojic acid is a natural ingredient that has been shown to lighten freckles and even out skin tone.
Arbutin is a natural ingredient that has been shown to lighten freckles and prevent the formation of new freckles effectively.
Hydroquinone is a skin-lightening ingredient that is often used to reduce the appearance of freckles, age spots, and other skin discolouration.
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that has been shown to help improve the appearance of freckles and even out skin tone.
Exfoliating the skin can help to remove dead skin cells, which can make freckles appear lighter and less noticeable. A gentle exfoliant, such as a glycolic acid scrub, can be used to help improve the texture and tone of the skin. However, it is important to not over-exfoliate, as this can cause skin irritation and make freckles more noticeable.
How To Treat Freckles?
Topical medications, such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, and glycolic acid, can be used to lighten freckles. These medications work by inhibiting the production of melanin, the pigment that gives freckles their colour. They should be used with caution, as they can cause skin irritation and may not be suitable for everyone. It is best to consult a dermatologist to determine the best course of treatment for you.
Laser treatments, such as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Q-switched laser, can be used to remove freckles. These treatments work by targeting the melanin in the freckles and breaking it down. The treatments can be a little painful, and you may need several sessions to achieve the desired results. It is important to choose a reputable dermatologist to perform the treatment, as there is a risk of scarring and pigmentation changes if not performed correctly.
Chemical peels, such as glycolic acid peels and trichloroacetic acid peels, can be used to remove freckles. These peels work by removing the top layer of skin, along with the freckles. They can cause skin irritation and may not be suitable for everyone. It is best to consult a dermatologist to determine the best course of treatment for you.
How To Prevent Freckles?
Wearing sunscreen with a high SPF is one of the best ways to prevent freckles from forming. Sunscreen helps to protect the skin from harmful UV rays, which can cause freckles to form. It is important to reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially if you are spending a lot of time in the sun.
Wear Protective Clothing
Wearing protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, hats, and sunglasses, can help to protect your skin from the sun. These types of clothing can provide extra protection from harmful UV rays and help to prevent freckles from forming.
Sunbathing and spending too much time in the sun can cause freckles to form. It is best to avoid sunbathing and limit your time in the sun, especially during peak hours, which are from 10am to 4pm.