What Causes Freckles? Best 5 Ways To Treat

Freckles are brown tiny spots. In most cases, it is a result of sun exposure. Basically, it occurs because of the excessive production of melanin. Melanin is accountable for the shade of hair and skin. People with light complexions usually notice this issue. Generally, they are not harmful. Freckles are of two types:

  1. Ephelides 1and
  2. Solar lentigines2

Types of Freckles


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These freckles are the result of sunburn or the exposure of skin to the sun’s rays. When UV rays come in contact with the skin then freckles appear.

Freckles usually appear on the back of the hands, face, and upper body. These freckles commonly occur on a lighter skin tone. People who live in Asia and Caucasians3 are mostly prone to this type of freckles.

Solar Lentigines

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These freckles occur mostly in adults over the age of 40 years. Solar lentigines are shady patches of skin that evolve during adulthood. This includes freckles, aging spots, and sunspots.

These 2 types of freckles may appear similar but differ in another manner like development.

What Increases Your Chance For Freckles?

The freckles increase or develop mostly because of genetics and environmental conditions. Your direct exposure to sunlight can increase the chances of freckles.4

According to sources, 2 things predict the chances of causing freckles in middle-aged women. Often sunburn and genes, that produce melanin. But even the presence of this gene doesn’t mean every individual will get affected in the same manner. Melanin is of 2 types: eumelanin & pheomelanin.

Now if your skin develops pheomelanin5 then the individual will get affected by UV radiations, these people usually have red hair, freckles, light skin, and skin tanning. Whereas if your skin has eumelanin then it will protect you from harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.

These people have black or brown hair, dark skin, and skin tanning but not as extreme as people with eumelanin.

For solar lentigines freckles, studies suggest that many factors are responsible for their development such as darker skin, exposure to the sun, oral birth control, or basically hormonal treatment.

How Moles And Freckles Are Different

People consider moles and freckles similar but they are quite different from each other. Moles are comparatively darker. Also, another main difference is that moles are not caused by sun exposure.

Just like the first type of freckles, ephelides moles are also caused mostly on light skin. Moles occur because of excessive cells that form pigment. Moles usually appear at the time of birth or soon after the birth of an individual.

The appearance of moles varies from person to person. From color to shape the appearance of moles varies. The harmless moles grow with the pace of individuals’ growth.

Is It Required To Get A Checkup For Moles Or Freckles

There is no harm in moles or freckles. But still, moles can result in increased chances of melanoma or other skin problems. You can do a self-examination of moles and freckles.6

How To Prevent Freckles Growth

What Are Freckles And How To Get Rid Of Freckles | ClearSkin, Pune | (In HINDI)

Those who don’t want to experience freckles can prevent it by following some precautions. firstly you need to keep in mind the reasons, what causes freckles? If you follow it properly then you not only prevent its growth but also make the earlier freckles disappear.

1. Use sunscreen

According to dermatologists, you can use sunscreen. It is preferable that it has an SPF of 30 and it should be water resistant. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes prior to stepping out in the sunlight to get full protection. Apply it in winter as well to avoid pigmentation problems.

  • Perform reapplication of sunscreen after 2 hours. If you are doing swimming or other rigorous activity then reapply it sooner than 2 hours. You can wear a hat as well to protect your skin.
  • Wear clothes that provide extra protection against UV rays.
  • Avoid going out, when sun rays are at their peak, that is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Take precautions to avoid tanning.

You won’t get freckles until you are exposed to sunlight. even if you feel it’s generic still you can prevent it by avoiding exposure to sunlight. According to a study, you can lighten your freckles and pigmentation of your skin by using the following products:

You can buy these chemicals online but it’s better to consult a dermatologist for your skin problem. Also perform a patch test, to avoid irritation on your skin. If you feel irritation on your skin then you should peel off or remove the product immediately.

2. Laser Therapy

Doctors suggest laser therapy to remove or lighten the color of freckles. Some resurfacing lasers not only work well on the face but also help to treat the freckles of other spots like the upper body.

If you have freckles on your legs because of sun exposure while performing activities like boating, then laser therapy will help treat your freckles.

3. Sunspot Removal

Another treatment that you can use to correct your freckles problem is sunspot removal by using the following:

  • Retinoid Creams
  • Cryotherapy
  • Chemical Peels
  • Hydroquinone
  • Laser Therapy

Besides this whole laser treatment, there is a pigment-specific treatment of laser. In this treatment the rays will no go through the layer of your skin, instead, they will target only specific pigmented spots on your skin.

Are Sunspots And Freckles Different?

Yes, both are different. Freckles come under 2 types- solar lentigines, and ephelides. Whereas sun spots are included in solar lentigines.

Facts About Freckles

  • They are not harmful, it is a result of the concentration of melanin that results in dark spots on the skin.
  • Freckles are tiny spots that are caused because of exposure to sunlight.
  • These occur commonly on the face, especially if the individual’s skin is poorly pigmented.
  • They rarely develop into any major problem.
  • Freckles will fade during winters, basically when an individual doesn’t come in contact with harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.
  • If freckles appear or seem unusual then they can cause major problems.
  • If you have peculiar appearing or symptomatic colored or pigmented spots then consider visiting a dermatologist for an examination of your skin.

You can treat your freckles. Lighten its color or eliminate them as well by taking proper treatment.

Can Freckles Become Harmful?

They are usually harmless. People sometimes get confused with freckles as it may get complicated to figure out if it is just a normal freckle or a serious problem. So it’s better to see a dermatologist if you have any doubts.

You can remove them by taking a laser or other recommended treatment if it is bothering you. You can also lighten its color by using a dermatologist-recommended cream or serum.

Usually, the color of freckles is the same, but still, its tone can vary from higher to lower. You can notice freckles of yellow, reddish, tan, brown, dark brown, and black as well.

It will always be a little darker than your skin tone. The color of freckles gets darkened by exposure to the sun. It becomes lighter if you stay away from sunlight.

Do I Need To Treat My Freckles?

Freckles - Causes & Treatments

Freckles are not harmful, mostly you don’t need to get bothered with freckles. So you don’t need to treat it, except if you don’t like it on your face. Otherwise, it’s fine if you are not treating them.

Also, if you wish to avoid the growth of freckles then don’t go in the sunlight. Use sunscreen, this will help you to stop or slow down freckles growth.

How To Get Rid Of Freckles?

Freckles will not disappear completely but you can lighten their color by using products or by taking treatments such as cryotherapy and lasers.

1. Use Chemical Peels And Acid: 

You can try using chemical peels and acids that have glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, phenol, and trichloroacetic acid. Products having these ingredients help to slough off the dead skin cells of the top layer and promote the development of new skin cells.7

2. Retinols and Retinoids: 

Both of these chemicals remove the dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin. Also, they promote the growth of new skin cells. These chemicals also promote the production of collagen.

3. Lasers: 

Laser therapy for freckles helps by removing the upper layer of skin.

4. Cryotherapy

Another therapy to remove freckles is cryotherapy. This procedure includes the usage of liquid nitrogen, which stops actinic keratosis and noncancerous age spots. The specific areas that are treated in this therapy get dark and shed away on some days.

Discuss the best way to treat your freckles with a dermatologist if you are willing to treat your freckles.

How To Perform Self-Examination Of Moles, Freckles, And Other Spots

According to the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Cancer Society, keep ABCs in mind. It is a guide to examining skin spots.

A. Stands For Asymmetry:

It signifies that you need to make a line, it should be imaginary in the center part of the spot. Neither end will match the other.

B. Stands For Border:

You need to examine the border of the spot if it has a blurred, ragged, irregular, or notched border.

C. Stands For Color: 

The color of a mole or spot differs, it has different shades of brown, pink, black, tan, white, or red.

D. Stands For Diameter: 

Usually, the diameter of the skin spot is around ¼ inches or a little more (basically similar to the size of an eraser or pencil).

E. Stands For Evolving: 

It means that the mark has changed its altitude, form, and shade. If you observe any such changes then make an appointment with a dermatologist to consult the issue. Although not every evolution means is harmful. Some other signs work as a warning signal.

  • If a specific spot is growing or a new spot that is not similar in appearance to other spots.
  • Sore that is not healing
  • If the area beyond the border of the mole or spot is swollen
  • If the color of the spot spreads on the area beyond the border of your skin
  • If the spot is painful, the skin feels itchy
  • If the surface of the mole has a bump, it is bleeding, growing, oozing

If you notice above mentioned signs then it’s better to consult a doctor. Although it is not necessary that every time such signs are a warning still prevention is better, so take action accordingly.

Does The Freckle On The Lips Need Attention?

Freckles can grow anywhere on the skin, even on your lips. The skin, that is the outer layer of lips is a part of the epidermis. The epidermis is the outer and foremost layer of skin.

So mostly it is harmless if you have a freckle on your lips. But in case you notice changes such as development or any other evolution, then it’s better to see a doctor.

What Are White Spots On The Skin?

When you stay in sunlight, or your skin remains under the exposure of sun for a long time then these result in the appearance of white spots. These spots appear mostly on the skin of people having lighter skin tones.

But that doesn’t mean people having dark skin tones will never get these spots. It is possible that they can get white spots on their skin. The parts that usually get most affected by these are the face, legs, upper back, and arms.

The cause of these spots is because of the reduction of melanin in the skin of an individual. These are not harmful, so you don’t need to be worried about them. Still, if you want to treat these spots then the following options are available for the treatment:

  • Pimecrolimus
  • Topical Steroids
  • Dermabrasion
  • And Tretinoin.

Freckles Vs. Lentigines

As mentioned earlier freckles are of two types and they are generally harmless. Their color tone intensity growth varies depending on the environment. Sun avoidance, Regular application of sunscreen, and sun protection will help you to avoid the problem of freckles.


Whereas lentigines, a Latin word, for the term lentil. This term is used for pigmented spots, these appear mostly at the surface of the skin where you have sunburn/ sun damage. Unlike freckles, these lentigines don’t get lightened in winter and are quite darker compared to freckles.

Can Freckles Be Inherited?

Skin color is an important factor that is responsible for freckles. Most people inherit their skin colors. So yes you can indirectly inherit freckles.

According to some studies, genetic factors are responsible for freckles. But still, if you don’t like freckles you can overcome them by following the same precautions.

Do Freckles Appear On Areas Not Exposed To The Rays Of The Sun?

Not generally, freckles never appear on the parts that are covered. You won’t notice freckles appearing on the parts that are not exposed to the sun’s UV rays. Rarely do freckles appear on armpits but this is another condition, which can be harmful.

Melanoma is a very dangerous problem, in this individuals will notice spots on both sun-exposed and covered parts. These can occur mostly in older adults, who in part had constant exposure to UV rays of the sun.

But it can occur to younger individuals too. Although the exact cause of this condition is not known till now sun rays possibly contribute. If you notice pigmented spots that evolve, which means a change in size, and color then go and get a checkup from a skin doctor for your problem. It’s better to treat the problem and take necessary precautions to avoid any serious issues.

Can Freckles Be Treated With Home Remedies?

No freckles cannot be treated at home. You can just lighten its effect with the help of makeup. You can apply concealer on your spots if they are bothering you on your skin. Some people adore their freckles but if you are not one of them, then you need to figure out what causes freckles.

You can lighten dark spots with the help of aloe vera, lemon juice, salicylic acid, and other ingredients that are beneficial for the skin. These light brown spots will not cause skin cancer normally, they are completely normal. But if you feel skin irritation, skin damage, or other risk factors then take necessary precautions and consult your doctor immediately.

Final Note

So now you probably know what causes freckles. The skin exposed to the sun develops freckles, skin color, and fair skin, which are other factors that develop freckles. If you wear sun-protective clothing that means covering sun-exposed skin then you lighten freckles. A skin doctor can help you to treat and lighten freckles.

Otherwise, water-resistant sunscreen will help to stop the growth and will fade freckles. health and wellness must be the first priority of everyone.

So if you notice more freckles, brown spots, (also named liver spots), and dark pigment skin because of the sun’s rays then avoid too much sun exposure. Take UV protection, and consult wellness professionals.

  1. Kawada, Akira, et al. “Clinical improvement of solar lentigines and ephelides with an intense pulsed light source.” Dermatologic surgery 28.6 (2002): 504-508. ↩︎
  2. Praetorius, Christian, Richard A. Sturm, and Eirikur Steingrimsson. “Sun‐induced freckling: ephelides and solar lentigines.” Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research 27.3 (2014): 339-350. ↩︎
  3. Deurenberg, Paul, Mabel Deurenberg‐Yap, and Syafri Guricci. “Asians are different from Caucasians and from each other in their body mass index/body fat per cent relationship.” Obesity reviews 3.3 (2002): 141-146. ↩︎
  4. Sarma, Nilendu, et al. “Piebaldism with non-intertriginous freckles: What does it mean?.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology 80 (2014): 163. ↩︎
  5. Ito, Shosuke, and Kazumasa Wakamatsu. “Quantitative analysis of eumelanin and pheomelanin in humans, mice, and other animals: a comparative review.” Pigment cell research 16.5 (2003): 523-531. ↩︎
  6. Oliveria, Susan A., et al. “Evaluation of factors associated with skin self-examination.” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 8.11 (1999): 971-978. ↩︎
  7. Rennekampff, Hans O., Verena Kiessig, and John F. Hansbrough. “Current concepts in the development of cultured skin replacements.” Journal of Surgical Research 62.2 (1996): 288-295. ↩︎

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