Freckles are small brown spots that develop on your skin, usually on areas that get sun exposure. They form as a result of UV radiation stimulation, which leads to excessive melanin production in the skin.
Melanin is a chemical produced in the skin which helps protect the skin from sun damage. It reflects and absorbs ultraviolet (UV) rays.
In this article, we will discuss if freckles ever really go away and what you can do to get rid of them.
Table of Contents:
- How Do You Get Freckles?
- Do Freckles Go Away on Their Own?
- What Are the Risk Factors for Freckles?
- Are Freckles Different from Sunspots?
- How Can I Get Rid of Freckles?
- Topical Creams
- Home Remedies
- Chemical Peels
- Laser Treatment
How Do You Get Freckles?
There are two types of freckles. They are known as ephelides and solar lentigines.
Ephelides are more common and form as a result of sun exposure and sunburns. They develop in childhood in areas that are exposed to the sun, such as the face and the back of your hands. They are also more likely to develop in people with lighter skin and hair color.
Solar lentigines usually develop in adulthood. They include freckles, aging spots, and sunspots.
Do Freckles Go Away on Their Own?
If your freckles are light, chances are they may fade with age. In some cases, freckles fade in the winters and come back in the summer due to sun exposure.
However, in a lot of other cases, freckles do not change much in winters or with age. Regardless of that, you should wear sunscreen every day to prevent them from becoming darker or developing more freckles.
What Are the Risk Factors for Freckles?
Whether or not you get freckles largely depends on the genes, you have received from your parents. It is not the only factor, though.
Genetics, along with your natural environment, will determine if you get freckles and how dark they become.
A study was performed in 2012 to investigate the impact of various behavioral and phenotypic variables on the history of facial freckles in 523 middle-aged Caucasian women.
It was found that frequent sunburns and diminished function variants of the MC1R gene contributed to freckles.
Are Freckles Different from Sunspots?
Yes, freckles are different from sunspots.
Firstly, freckles first start appearing at a young age due to sun exposure, whereas sunspots develop and accumulate with age and are very unlikely to fade.
As mentioned previously, freckles can disappear in winters, whereas sunspots remain as is.
Moreover, freckles are usually 1 to 2 mm in size, but sunspots can be much bigger in size. Freckles are reddish to light brown in color, whereas sunspots are light yellow or dark brown.
How Can I Get Rid of Freckles?
There are various ways to remedy freckles. Let's discuss all of these in brief. Read on!
Ah, this had to be the first.
Although putting on sunscreen won’t get rid of your existing freckles, it will most certainly help in preventing the formation of new ones.
Topical fading cream, or bleaching cream, is available in OTC and prescription forms. One main active ingredient in these creams is hydroquinone. It decreases melanin production and lightens the dark areas of the skin. However, there are some safety concerns for this ingredient.
Topical retinoid creams are also used to lighten freckles and improve sun-damaged skin. A 2014 study showed that retinoids might protect against sun damage by absorbing ultraviolet B radiation. It may also help in preventing the formation of new freckles.
For home remedies, you can use ingredients like apple cider vinegar, yogurt, lemon juice, buttermilk, honey, almond, or aloe vera gel.
Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid. It exfoliates dark skin cells and lightens the freckles. Mix 1 teaspoon with 2 tablespoons of honey and apply directly on the freckles. Leave it on for about 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing with water.
Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C. It reduces hyperpigmentation by reducing melanin production and lightens the freckles-affected area. It also protects against harsh sun rays. Mix a few drops of lemon juice in 1 tablespoon of honey and apply it to your freckles. Leave for 15 minutes and rinse off. Repeat twice a week.
Aloe vera contains aloesin which works very well to reduce pigmentation. It also enhances the production of metallothionein in the skin that can prevent damage by sunlight. Massage pure aloe vera gel on your face for 2 to 3 minutes. Wash after 10 minutes and moisturize.
- Almond oil is rich in vitamins A and E. It nourishes the skin and treats hyper-pigmentations. Take 4 to 5 drops of almond oil and apply to the freckles. Feel free to leave it overnight and wash it the next morning.
A chemical peel uses a chemical solution to exfoliate and peel off the skin from the damaged areas. Common chemical peels contain glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid and are extremely effective in lightening freckles. They penetrate the skin’s middle layers, remove the damaged skin, and allow new skin to take its place.
Laser treatment uses intense targeted light to treat the freckles. The fractionated lasers target the water present inside the skin’s layers. It then reaches the middle layers of the skin, removes the old, pigmented cells, and makes way for collagen production.
There are different types of lasers used for treating freckles. A 2015 study showed that the 1064 Q-Switched Nd YAG laser is the most effective to treat freckles.
Laser treatment is generally safe with a low risk of scarring. However, as with other procedures, side effects may occur. Side effects include itching, swelling, redness, peeling, infection, and changes in complexion.
Cryosurgery is a procedure that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the pigmented spots on the skin to treat freckles.
Essentially, the liquid nitrogen forms a blister on the skin by causing controlled damage. It then removes excess melanin.
It is generally a safe procedure. However, potential side effects include hypopigmentation, bleeding, and blistering.
Freckles form due to sun exposure in early childhood. Fortunately, there are many options available today to treat freckles. Sunscreen, topical creams, laser surgery, and home remedies like lemon juice are just a few of them.
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