What are freckles?
Freckles are small spots, caused by a concentration of melanin. They are usually tan or light brown in color, and flat. Freckles are most common on the face, but they may also develop on the arms, shoulders, or any other area of skin that receives sun exposure. They are not harmful to your health and they are not considered a symptom of any other condition. Some freckles appear much larger than they are, because several are overlapped.
Freckling can occur in any type of skin, though it is most noticeable on fair-skinned individuals. The primary cause is sun exposure, which can trigger the development of new freckles, or cause existing ones to darken. Age spots are similar accumulations of pigment, which tend to appear later in life. Both age spots and freckles are part of the photoaging process.
Types of freckles
There are two classifications of freckles.
- Ephelides, sometimes called simple freckles, are usually small, round, and tan colored.
- Lentigines, also called sunburn freckles, may be irregular in shape and they are typically darker and larger than ephelides. They are most common in areas where people frequently get sunburns. They are usually isolated spots and not harmful.
Visible freckles are usually all the same color, but in some individuals, it may vary, including tan, black, brown, red, or yellow. Sun exposure typically makes freckles more noticeable, and they may fade during the cool season. Sometimes a child develops small brown, black, or tan spots that look darker than typical freckles and do not fade in winter. These are called lentigo simplex freckles.
Freckle treatments at Dr. W Dermatology
As with many conditions, the best method of treatment is prevention. Avoiding direct sun exposure and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen are important for preventing freckles as well as skin cancer, premature aging, and other UV-related conditions. It is best to wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and wide brimmed hats, and avoid being outdoors midday, when UV rays are the strongest.
If you already have freckles, they can be lightened or eliminated in a number of ways. After a comprehensive evaluation, we will help you choose the best solution for your situation. Freckle treatment may include:
- Chemical peels, also known as chemexfoliation or derma-peeling, smooth and exfoliate the skin as well as lightening or eliminating freckles.
- Retinoids can improve your general skin health. They are frequently used in combination with bleaching creams.
- Laser for pigmented lesions can help reduce freckles by removing the upper layer of affected skin and stimulating the production of youthful new skin cells.
- Cryosurgery utilizes liquid nitrogen to freeze a blemish, causing it to blister and fall off. It is rarely recommended for the treatment of freckles, due to their small size.
- Bleaching cream can be used to lighten the color of freckles, which helps them blend with the tone of surrounding skin.
- Intense Pulsed Light therapy creates heat, which acts on the melanin to eliminate or reduce the appearance of freckles and other pigment issues.
Although freckles are harmless, they can be embarrassing and frustrating for individuals seeking an even, smooth complexion. The trained professionals at Dr. W Dermatology can help. You can visit our our Houston location. Just call (281) 771-0494 and schedule an appointment.