Freckles are pigmented skin cells that are found most commonly on fair-skinned individuals. They are genetic in nature and most common in children prior to puberty, though many adults have them too. Freckles are small, individual tan spots that contain more melanin than other skin cells. They do not indicate any sort of skin disorder or disease in a normal capacity.
People with fair skin have less melanin, or pigment, in their skin cells. This factor is almost always indicated by both fair skin and light colored hair, frequently red and sometimes blonde. Exposure to the sun can actually enhance the appearance of freckles because the body may produce more melanin in response to overexposure. Melanin acts as the skin’s protection against the sun’s rays, which causes a person’s freckles to darken.
Freckles are particularly common in children, but often the onset of puberty causes the body to begin to produce more melanin. If melanin is produced evenly throughout the skin, it causes the freckles to fade. While many children with freckles will lose them with puberty, some will have this characteristic their whole lives.
The most common location on the body for freckles to form is the nose and cheeks, though many people have them on their shoulders, arms and other areas that are frequently exposed to the sun. In some cases, they are sporadic, individual spots, and sometimes there are several grouped together, making them appear larger and cover a greater portion of the skin.
A dermatologist would use the term ephelides to describe freckles. Many people visit a dermatologist in hopes of achieving a reduction or removal of these spots because they are uncomfortable with their appearance. While there are few options for this, consulting a dermatologist is the best way to learn more.
In the event that a person notices a change in his or her freckles or a birthmark, mole, or other skin pigmentation, he or she should visit a dermatologist to assess your risk for skin cancer. Contrary to popular belief, a person with freckles is at no greater risk for developing skin cancer than someone without them, so long as he or she takes the proper precautions when exposed to the sun.