Freckles appear as small brown spots on the face, but may also be found on other areas of the body including the arms. Some consider freckles a sign of photoaging similar to sun spots. They are not considered a medical concern, but many seek treatment as they may consider them a cosmetic concern.
Freckles may be passed on in families, as genetics may play a role in developing freckles. Lighter skinned individuals are more susceptible to freckles than darker skinned individuals, but may take the proper precautions to prevent freckling.
Exposure to the sun may also cause freckling, especially in lighter skinned individuals. The sun may also cause existing freckles to become darker. Similar to age spots, freckles form when the skin is exposed to sunlight, which stimulates the production of melanin, or the pigment that gives the skin its color. When melanin builds up in one spot, freckles may form.
Wearing sunscreen is helpful in preventing freckling caused by the sun. Most skincare professionals recommend wearing at least SPF 15, while others recommend higher protection.
Freckles are not a medical concern and are not harmful, but lighter skinned individuals who freckle easier should take special care to cover up when in the sun. The reason is that light skinned individuals who are prone to freckling may also be more likely to develop skin cancer from sun damage.
Patients should speak with a skincare professional for more information about freckles and how to prevent freckling.