Freckles are very common, but not everyone has them. Those of us that do may only have a few or may have lots of them, especially on areas that get exposed to a lot of sun. Although freckles are harmless and some people like them, others may be unhappy about their freckles and want to prevent or get rid of them.
What Causes Freckles?
Freckles are small patches of darker pigmentation that appear on some people’s skin:
- Freckles are genetic. If you don’t have the freckle gene, you won’t have any.
- People with fairer skin are more likely to get freckles.
- Freckles develop where there is a patch that responds to the sun by producing more of the brown pigment melanin than the surrounding skin. It is similar to the way that some people’s skin responds to the sun by tanning.
Since freckles are caused by your skin’s reaction to the sun, it is possible to prevent them using sun protection:
- Wear sunscreen every day, especially in summer when you should use SPF 30 or higher
- Cover up the areas where freckles appear and wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face
- Stay out of the sun, especially between 11am and 3pm when it is strongest
Protecting your skin from the sun should prevent new freckles from forming. You may also notice that your existing freckles fade once they are no longer stimulated by the sun. This often happens in winter even if you don’t take any extra precautions against sun exposure.
Getting Rid of Freckles
If you are unhappy about your freckles or other patches of darker pigmentation such as age spots, it is a good idea to consult a private dermatologist. Treatments such as laser therapy, cryotherapy, chemical peels, lightening creams or intense pulsed light treatment may be suitable for you. However, it is important to remember that freckles are harmless and that many people are perfectly happy with theirs. There is no medical reason to get rid of freckles, it simply depends on how you feel about them.