Freckles are a common skin condition and non-life threatening. They typically appear as small brown spots on areas of the skin that are exposed to sunlight, including the face, shoulders, chest and arms. They are most common in people with lighter complexions or red hair. While they are often associated with the sun, they are not caused by sun damage, though they can hide sun damage conditions.
Freckles are relatively consistent in their presentation. The signs of freckles include:
While most common on lighter complexions, they can be evident on people with darker complexions as well. While not caused by the sun, freckles will get darker in the sun and are triggered by sunlight.
Freckles are caused by the MC1R gene. This gene is most common in people with a Celtic background. Those with Asian, Mediterranean, Hispanic or African backgrounds are less likely to carry this gene. There is no underlying medical condition associated with freckles and they are not an indication of sun damage. Sun can increase them, however, so staying out of the sun is typically recommended for those who want to lessen the appearance of freckles.
Those who wish to lessen the appearance of freckles have a number of home and dermatological procedures to consider. Exfoliation, moisturizing and wearing SPF each day are the best home recommendations for those with freckles. Anyone with freckles should also conduct a self-check of their skin on a regular basis, since freckles can hide other conditions. Dermatological procedures that can help with the appearance of freckles include laser treatment, liquid nitrogen treatment and chemical peels which remove dead layers of skin and can fade freckles.
All cases of freckles are not the same, therefore we recommend seeing a specialist to help determine which treatment option is the best for you.