Freckles are flat, circular tan spots of concentrated melanin often visible on individuals with fair skin. Also known as ephelides, the word freckle comes from the Middle English term freken which descends from the Old Norse term freknur meaning freckled.Those with freckles may have numerous spots on areas such as the cheeks, nose, forehead, chest, shoulders or arms, or may just have a few scattered in various places on the body.
Freckles can be of multiple colors including brown, light brown, reddish or even black. Not everyone is a fan of their freckles and therefore use home remedies, over the counter medications, prescription treatments or even professional chemical peels to reduce their appearance. Learning about effective cures and remedies for freckles can help to increase your skin care knowledge and benefit your skin.
There are two basic types of freckles, ephelides and lentigines. Ephelides are the most common type which results in flat, circular red or brown colored spots that typically occur darker in the summer and lighter in the winter. Lentigines are smaller in size and can appear brown, tan or black. These types of spots are usually darker than ephelides and stay dark through the summer and winter.
Lentigines, often called ˜liver spots are commonly found in older people after years of exposure to the sun. Freckles typically appear in areas that are exposed to sunlight. While most people are able to spot a freckle simply from sight, there are various other symptoms associated with the spots.
Symptoms of Freckles Include:
- Darkening or change of the affected area of the skin
- Freckles caused by sunlight can sometimes be accompanied by diarrhea
- Affected areas of the skin can be transformed into moles
- Abdominal pain that can vary in intensity
- Weight loss can accompany new freckles
- Passing off bloody stools or stools coated with mucus
- New or unusually shaped freckles can be a warning sign of cancer
- Brown, tan or red spots that become darker when exposed to the sun
- Spots that occur after a period of sun exposure
- Red hair and green eyes are most common traits for those with freckles
- The spots can appear as pin-size spots or be larger with smooth or ragged edges
Exposure to sunlight and genetics are the two leading factors in the creation of freckles. Depending on the type of freckles you have, they may fade or darken depending on the amount and intensity of sunlight on exposed areas of the skin.
Freckles can also be heredity and therefore be passed down by a mother, father, grandparent or other close relative. This is because some individuals carry special cells in the skin that produce excess amounts of melanin. Hormone abnormalities can also be accounted for as an over-stimulation of estrogen in the body can cause the pigment cells to generate excess color when exposed to sunlight.
Causes of freckles include:
- Over-exposure of bare skin to sunlight
- Accumulated melanin build-up in a certain area of the body
- Heredity and genetics can play a role in freckle production
- Hormonal imbalance or excess estrogen in the body
- Fair skinned individuals are most at risk as they absorb more ultraviolet rays
- Those who tan both outside or in a tanning bed can get freckles
- Skin cancer patients can develop freckles in colors such as black, pink or red with irregular shapes
- Caused by the dominant MC1R melanocortin receptor gene
Many find freckles very attractive, especially when scattered across the cheek. Since freckles, pose no danger to our general health, those with freckles can enjoy their appearance and give a splash of color to their fair skin. The only threat detected by the appearance of freckles is when they mistaken for other skin conditions or diseases. If you have a new or unique freckle or freckles, its best to get them evaluated by a professional dermatologist to rule out potential harmful conditions.
Possible risk factors include:
- Excess exposure to sunlight in bare areas such as face, arms, back and shoulders
- Genetics plays as a factor so individuals with freckled family members or relatives
- Fair skinned individuals are more at risk, especially if they work or spend large amounts of time outdoors
- Those who tan on a regular basis outdoors or at a tanning salon are more at risk
When trying to prevent freckles from becoming darker or when trying to reduce the appearance of your freckles, you will need to engage in a few preventative measures.
The main goal is to stay protected while still being able to enjoy time in the sunlight. These preventative measures will also help reduce the risk of skin related conditions and diseases such as skin cancer. The younger you begin preventing the appearance of freckles; the chance of getting them in the future will be greatly reduced. Try the following prevention tips for sun safety and prevention of freckles.
How to prevent freckles:
- Avoid exposure to the sun whenever possible. Sit under a shaded tree or porch while outdoors.
- While outdoors, wear clothing that will help ward off the sunlight such as hats and t-shirts to cover your shoulder and back in warm weather.
- Keep your face and skin safe by wearing a thin layer of SPF make-up, face powder or simply sun screen alone.
- Products such as umbrellas, visors and sun hats can help keep the sun from direct contact with your skin.
- Increase your Vitamin C intake to prevent the occurrence of freckles
- Use a sun screen that blocks both UVB and UVA rays and contain at least one of the following active ingredients: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide
- Reapply sun screen after excess sweating or after swimming
- Avoid peak sun hours, typically between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun is the highest and most intense
- Avoid using tanning beds as this gives direct UV radiation to the skin
Check any medications you take for skin sensitivity side effects
Test and Diagnosis Considerations
While freckles are not harmless to the individual who possesses them, some may still want a physician advice and proper diagnosis. Freckles can be diagnosed simply through appearance alone. Your dermatologist will know what to look for to distinguish a freckle from any other type of lesion based on the appearance of the skin.
Future testing may be needed if the freckles are abnormal in shape or color or if a separate skin condition or disease is suspected such as melanoma. If your doctors expect skin cancer after analyzing new or unusual freckles, a biopsy (skin sample) may be taken and assessed by a lab to properly diagnose and treat the skin disease. This procedure is typically done in your dermatologists office under local anesthesia.
Freckles do not have to be removed for medical reasons but many prefer them lightened for cosmetic reasons. There are numerous treatments available for freckles including creams, oils, facial masks, lotions, topical prescriptions, as well as several in-office laser and chemical options. Here you will find various treatment options to fit your needs.
Herbal and Home Cures & Remedies Include
Natural remedies and cures used for freckles are extremely safe and present mild or no side effects in most cases. Irritation of the skin may occur with frequent use. Herbal and home cures may also take longer to see results as they gradually lighten skin over time. Cost of these home remedies are low as they can be found in your own home or purchased from a super market for just a few dollars.
- Apply fresh lemon juice to the freckles twice a day
- Apply sour cream and leave on as a mask, do not rinse
- Use fruit or vegetable masks (includes: strawberries, cucumbers, apricots and red currant)
- Wash your face with sour milk to gently peel off top layers of skin
- Apply microwave heated honey to face and rinse with warm water
- Horseradish vinegar or juice applied to the face can lighten freckles
- Apply castor oil before going to bed
- Use parsley juice mixed with equal amounts of orange, lemon or red currant juice.
- Apply grinned yellow mustard mixed with milk and allow to sit overnight
- Wash your face with buttermilk
- Rub a slice of red onion on the freckles twice a day
- Mix sesame seeds with turmeric seeds, mix with water and apply
- Use grains of the inside of a watermelon to scrub face
- Mix unpasteurized honey with unripe currants and leave on face for half hour before rinsing
Pharmaceutical Cures & Remedies Include:
Pharmaceutical treatment options can vary from over the counter creams to prescription medications advised from your dermatologist. These types of freckle treatment options can present side effects such as reddening of the skin, irritation, headaches, acne, skin discoloration (temporary or permanent), rashes, chemical burns and oily or dry skin. Pharmaceutical methods for freckles do not work for everyone. Costs of these treatment methods can vary and in some cases, health insurance may cover the costs of prescription medications.
Bleaching creams containing kojic acid or high concentrations of hydroquinone. Beware of certain bleaching creams that can permanently discolor or damage skin.
Tretinoin can be used in conjunction with bleaching creams
- Alpha hydroxyl acids used on a regular basis
- Over the counter or prescription medications containing glycolic acid
- Prescription-strength retinoid applied daily over a period of time
- Prescription medications containing tazortene (Tazorac) or adapalene (Differin)
- Larger freckles may react to treatment methods made for the lightening of age spots
Surgery Cures & Remedies Include:
There are several ways to reduce or even hide the appearance of freckles almost instantly through treatments provided by a dermatologist. These options are very effective but may take numerous treatment appointments to fully lighten the freckles. The effectiveness, cost and time it takes to reduce the appearance of the freckles will depend on the type of freckles, how many you have, where on the body they located and how dark they are.
Laser resurfacing removes the top layers of skin with a laser and provides long-lasting results. Typically takes 1 to 2 weeks to complete and costs approximately $2,250.
Chemical peels are also effective in getting rid of freckles by using intense chemicals to peel away layers of skin. Only 1 treatment is usually need and the approximate cost is $800.
Liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy) treatment is used to the freckle directly by forming a blister that lifts the freckle from the skin. Multiple sessions may be needed for this somewhat painful procedure and the approximate cost is $3,000.
Also known as angel kisses or beauty marks freckles can give a person a unique look. It’s not probable that everyone with freckles are going to like the way they look which is why there are thousands of freckle lightening and removal products on the market.
Many of these freckle treatment methods are permanent so it best to give the idea some thought and consideration before making a definite choice on whether or not you want to be freckle-free. Try wearing make-up to cover up your freckles for a few weeks to see what you look and feel will like without them.
Stick With It
It’s important to stay consistent when using any of the above cures and remedies for freckles as most take time to work. You will usually begin to see a gradual lightening of the freckles after two to three weeks of time. After six months, a visible change in the appearance of the skin should be noticed by yourself and others.
The removal of freckles from the skin can help one self confidence by providing freckle-free, healthy skin. If you interested in finding cures and remedies for freckles, use this guide to aid you in your quest to clear skin.