Freckles do not pepper on the skin upon birth. But being in a tropical country like Singapore, freckles may appear at some point, especially for people who are always exposed to the sun’s harsh rays.
Spending time outdoors without proper sun protection, such as sunscreen or umbrellas, can cause unwanted pigmentation to develop on the skin.
Freckles is just one of the many skin flaws that can occur on the skin caused by pigmentation. They are more common on Westerners and there are a number of famous celebrities carry them as their trademarks (think Lindsay Lohan). Some people, however, cannot stand the sight of them!
Did you know that during the medieval age freckles were believed to be marks from the devil? Women who had freckles were considered witches.
If you have seen this pigmentation sneakily invading a certain area of your skin and would like to get rid of them, then you are in the right place! Read on to the very end of this article to see what treatments are in store to make those freaky freckles vanish!
What are the types of freckles?
There are two types of freckles, namely, the Ephelides and the Lentigines. Ephelides are light brown freckles noticeable on people with lighter complexions. This type of freckles can fade with less sun exposure. They are darker during summer time and lighter during colder months. Lentigines, otherwise known as age or liver spots, are specks on the skin that contain an excess of melanocyte cells, which are responsible for producing the skin’s pigmentation.
How can freckles be distinguished from other skin pigmentation flaws?
There are several skin flaws that are caused by an overproduction of pigmentation. Freckles can easily be distinguished according to their colour and form. They are multiple tiny spots that are flat and circular in shape. They are about 1mm to 2mm in size and are likened to tiny peppers flecked across the skin.
The colour of freckles is uniform on the skin, but may vary from one person to another, depending on the skin’s complexion. For example, Asians may have freckles that are brown in colour, while redheads have reddish freckles. Freckles may also be yellowish, tan, light brown, or black. Freckles stand out, as they are darker than the surrounding skin.
What can cause freckles to appear on the skin?
Freckles can either be inherited genetically or developed through continuous sun exposure. Freckles that are passed on through a family’s lineage are typical among people with fair skin, blond or red hair, and green eyes.
People with darker skin tones do not exhibit this skin impurity. Furthermore, women are more prone to getting freckles as compared to men.
How do freckles develop on the skin?
Freckles develop when the skin is exposed to the sun’s UV rays. The skin’s pigmentation, called melanin, is triggered to production whenever the skin soaks in the ultraviolet rays. When the skin is overexposed to UV rays, may they be from the sun or even fluorescent tanning lights, the melanin can generate excess amounts of pigments that result to an abundance of melanocyte cells forming the freckles.
What parts of the body can freckles develop?
Freckles generally develop on the cheekbones and across the nose.
At what age do freckles usually develop?
Children as young as one or two years old may develop freckles, especially if they acquired this from their family’s bloodline. For adolescents or adults, freckles may form at any age. They are most likely to occur whenever the skin is repeatedly basked under the sun without proper protection to shield it from the harsh UV rays.
Are freckles cancerous?
Freckles are normally harmless and are rarely cancerous.
Are freckles contagious?
No, freckles are not contagious.
Can freckles be prevented from worsening or forming on the skin?
Preventing freckles to surface is a much better alternative than having it removed. Freckle removal is a tedious task that can cause time and a lot of money. There may be times that results from treatments are not adequate.
People with a family history of freckles are advised to start shielding the skin with appropriate sun protection early on in life.
There are several ways to prevent freckles from worsening or forming on the skin. A sunscreen with a strong sun protection factor (SPF) should be applied to the skin. When looking for the perfect sunblock, choose one that has SPF ranging from 30 to 50. In addition, pick a brand that has “broad spectrum coverage for Ultraviolet - A & B” or “PA+++” indicated on the label. Make sure that the skin exposed to the sun is covered with a generous amount of sunscreen, even when indoors or overcast days.
Aside from sunscreen, use wide-brimmed hats (preferably 6 inches in measurement) or an umbrella to cover the face from the direct heat of the sun. It is also best to avoid the sun during its peak hours, which is between 10 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon.
What are the available treatments to reduce or remove freckles?
The following treatments can help reduce or remove freckles:
- Bleaching Creams
- Chemical peels
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
A combination of the treatments mentioned may be used to effectively reduce or remove the presence of freckles on the skin.
Bleaching Creams. These are topical creams that use hydroquinone or kojic acid as an active ingredient and work to lighten the pigmentation gradually with a continued application on the affected areas.
Chemical peels. Chemical peels utilize gentle acids, such as glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids. When applied to the skin, the chemicals peel the thin layer of the epidermis together with the pigments, allowing the tone to lighten and the new skin beneath to surface.
Cryosurgery. This treatment uses liquid nitrogen to treat freckles, although some stubborn pigments do not respond to it well.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). This treatment uses light therapy to lighten and eliminate freckles.
Laser. The Q-Switched Nd: Yag laser is effective in treating freckles. This technique uses laser beams to target pigmentation and breaks them into powder-like substances that the body eliminates. Laser treatments will require several days of rest to allow the skin to heal.
Retinoids. Topical retinoids like tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene can help lighten the freckles. This works well with bleaching creams, although results may take a bit longer.
Can freckles be cured permanently?
Unfortunately, freckles cannot be cured permanently. When the areas that have responded to treatments successfully are exposed to the sun without protection, there is a great tendency that the freckles could recur.
How do I know which treatment is suitable for my freckles?
The best way to know which treatment to choose to remove your freckles is to have your condition assessed by a medical professional. At the same time, ask for options. Some doctors will recommend laser treatments outright, but some freckles respond well to topical creams.
Lasers or IPL may cost more, though results come quicker than creams. When deciding to use laser or IPL, be sure to ask your doctor about their experience in administering this method to previous patients. You may ask for before and after photos to gauge the success of their treatments.
Remember that the skill of the doctor handling your case is very important in achieving the best results of eliminating your freckles. Be sure to follow the aftercare instructions to avoid recurrence.