What are freckles?

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Freckles are something that either we have seen on the skin of others or on our own skin. So have you ever wondered what these spots referred to as freckles are really. In this article we try to define what freckles are in a comprehensive way.

What are called freckles are commonly seen on the sun exposed areas of the body. They can appear on the face, neck, back, chest, hands and arms in the forms of spots that are either red or brown. Freckles are usually harmless but should be watched to see if their forms changes. Freckles are quite common, and they develop and are found most often in the summers. Those with lighter skin and blond hair are more likely to have freckles. Although freckles are more commonly found in lighter skin people those with darker skin can also have them.

The development of freckles

Melanin plays a key role in the development of freckles. To be more specific when melanin which is responsible for giving our hair, eyes and skin its colour are overproduced freckles can develop. Melanin is responsible for protecting our skin from sun damage. Melanin protects us from the sun by absorbing and reflecting the UV rays from our skin. In those that have light skin melanocytes which are skin cells that produce melanin go into overproduction and produce too much melanin. Therefore, these individuals are more likely to develop freckles rather to actually develop a tan.

Although the main cause of development of melanin has to do with exposure to UV rays there are others causes also. These other causes include having  genes associated with freckling and Xeroderma Pigmentosum which is a rare disease that increases the sensitivity of the skin to UV rays from the sun.

The different types of freckles

Like many other skin conditions freckles come in different types. There are 2 types of freckles which are Ephelides and Solar Lentigines.

Ephelides

Ephelides are what people generally think of when they think of freckles. They appear in red or brown colour and are flat. They are mostly caused when our bodies are exposed to the sun and can appear on the face, arms, upper chest, neck and back. Ephelides are most common in those that are white and those of Asian ancestry. They appear when people are young and develop further as people grow up but tend to dwindle with age.

Solar Lentigines

Solar Lentigines appear in yellow, red brown and dark patches on the skin. Solar Lentigines are also referred to by other terms such as liver spots, actinic lentigines and age spots. Those who are over the age of 40 years old are more likely to develop Solar Lentigines. Their main cause tends to be repeated exposure to the sun, and they can be found on the hands, face, forearms, back, shoulder and lower legs.

Ways to prevent development of freckles

As we have highlighted in this article the main cause of development of freckles has to do with exposure to the sun. Therefor one of the best ways you can protect yourself is always applying sunscreen. It is best to apply and also reapply sunscreen  when outdoors continually. Also make sure the sunscreen you are using is water-resistant and has a SPF of 30 or higher.

In addition, you can prevent the development of freckles by wearing protective clothing such as hats, sunglasses and long sleeve shirts. Make sure to also avoid being exposed to the sun at its peak hours which tends to be between 10 AM to 4 PM and avoid all forms of tanning!

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