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Why We Get Freckles, and Whether It Can Be Controlled

Many of you have likely noticed that after we’ve taken a long spring walk after winter, your cheeks and nose instantly get cute orange spots, otherwise known as freckles. Some people think they are nice and sweet, while others prefer to conceal them under a layer of foundation.

5-Minute Crafts figured out where freckles come from and whether we can control their appearance.

❗ It’s important: This article is for informational purposes only and in no way replaces the advice of experts.

What freckles are

Freckles are areas where pigment under the skin is accumulated. The appearance of freckles is associated with the deposit of a special substance in the skin called melanin. However, unlike moles, freckles don’t contain a large number of cells that produce this pigment. Instead, they have cells that process melanin granules in such a way that they stain the outer skin cells.

Oftentimes, freckles appear in childhood, and by the age of about 20, their number is bigger than at a later age. At the same time, they are almost absent in infants. Also, oftentimes freckles are found in people with fair skin and red hair, however, they can appear in people with any skin type. Mainly, freckles are located on the face, but any part of the skin exposed to sunlight, such as the arms or shoulders, can become covered with them.


There are 2 main types of freckles: ephelides and solar lentigines.


  • Are genetic
  • Appear at the age of 2-3 for the first time after having been exposed to the sun
  • Can disappear in winter
  • Go away as you age
  • Have irregular undefined borders

Solar lentigines are also called pigment spots:

  • Appear with age, often after 50
  • Don’t disappear
  • Have clear and defined borders
  • Color can vary from light yellow to dark brown

Why they appear

It is believed that the appearance of freckles is caused by 2 factors: genetic predisposition and exposure to the sun. The thing is that the sun (like fluorescent tanning lights) emits ultraviolet rays, which, when absorbed by the skin, start certain processes in the skin. In particular, the production of the melanin pigment (which was mentioned above) is enhanced with the help of special cells. And people with pale skin are especially susceptible to the sun.

How to prevent their appearance

Natural healthy freckles don’t require any special control or treatment — they are not signs of skin issues. With age, they can fade away completely. However, if you don’t like how your skin looks with freckles, you can try to lighten them with laser treatment, chemical peels, or with the help of a cream containing retinol.

As a preventive measure, you can try sticking to these simple rules:

  • Use sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection and an SPF of 30 or higher (even when it’s not sunny).
  • Don’t use tanning beds.
  • Don’t sunburn.
  • Stay in the shade from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Preview photo credit Unsplash, Unsplash
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