Freckles (also known as ephelides) are multiple, flat, circular spots which develop over sun-exposed surfaces, particularly the cheeks, nose, upper shoulders, and arm.
The spots develop due to an increase in the amount of melanin, a dark pigment, in cells called melanocytes.
Freckles are always darker than the surrounding skin and may be red, yellow, light brown or dark brown.
They are prominent in summer but fade considerably or disappear in winter. Fair-skinned people, especially those with red hair, have an inherited predisposition for them.
The prominence of freckles is related to sun exposure-sunburn makes them bigger and darker.
Freckles caused by sunburn have irregular jagged borders and commonly appear on the upper back and shoulders where people get their most severe sunburns.
There is no permanent cure for freckles; however, several safe and effective methods are available to help lighten or reduce their appearance. Sun avoidance and sun protection may help to suppress their appearance.
What are Sun Spots and Age Spots?
Sun spots, also known as age spots or liver spots are harmless, large, flat, gray, brown, freckle-like circular spots, often with irregular borders. They vary in size from as small as a pea to as large as a nickel. Unlike freckles, these spots tend to persist and do not fade and darken with the seasons. Sun spots are common in those with fair skin but are frequently seen in those who tan easily or have naturally dark skin. Although these spots appear on the skin of older adults, age spots, or liver spots have little to do with aging or the liver. They develop slowly over time and get bigger as our skin produces excess melanin (pigment) in response to overexposure to sunlight. It is for this reason that these spots usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms—areas of the body most exposed to the sun. Accordingly, the prevention of age spots requires sun avoidance and sun protection. Sun spots are harmless and do not need to be treated; however, many people seek treatment because they believe these spots can detract from their skin’s appearance, making them look older. Although age spots do not change into cancerous growths, some skin cancers may resemble these spots. Accordingly, anyone who has one or more uncertain pigmented spot should report them to a physician or dermatologist for evaluation