Introduction Freckle or sunspot? Sometimes it’s super hard to tell the difference! Both are roundish, brownish spots that appear on our faces. Both seem to
If You Have Freckles, Here’s Some Skincare Advice
If you are someone who has natural freckles, lucky you! Freckles are very in trend now and lots of people would be super jealous to have freckles. However, you might wonder what your freckles mean in relation to the health of your skin. Why do I have freckles and others do not? And why do some people only have a few light freckles that appear when they go under the sun, while others have perpetual freckles that are dark and scattered all over their face? Is it a cause for concern if I have more freckles than someone else? Am I doing something wrong with my skincare?
Don’t fret! In this article, we’ll answer all your questions and provide some tips for our freckled friends to best protect their skin from the sun and the nasty UV rays that cause skin damage.
Why do some people have freckles and others do not?
Some people have freckles because they are genetically inherited from your family. Genetic freckles are called ephelides. There is a freckle gene called MC1R which determines whether or not you have natural freckles. People with the MC1R gene will produce freckles when exposed to the sun. If you have the gene and you go into the sun, the sun will activate the gene, and your freckles will show. Conversely, people without the freckle gene will not produce freckles even if they go under the sun. Freckles are usually found in people with a fairer complexion and the genes for red hair and green eyes also tend to go along with freckles. The Caucasians and East Asians are more likely to have freckles as they have lighter skin tones.
If you have freckles genetically, it is likely because your skin does not have enough protection from the sun and the freckles are a biological trait meant to protect you. Those with the freckle gene are more likely to have fairer skin that is more susceptible to burning from the sun. Hence, the melanocytes, which are the pigment-producing cells, produce more melanin on the vulnerable areas of the face such as the nose bridge and cheeks, which are typically where freckles form.
Should I be worried about serious conditions like skin cancer if I have freckles?
Freckles are pretty much harmless, but you might want to keep an eye on them. People with freckles tend to be more predisposed to skin cancer, so if you have natural freckles, do regularly check that they are not getting darker or evolving in size and flatness. If you are someone who has developed sunspots over time from excessive sun exposure, you’ll also want to keep a watch on them to ensure they are not changing and getting bigger. There are 4 main types of skin cancer that people develop:
- Basal cell carcinoma: Basal cell carcinoma looks like marks that resemble scars, bumps, small skin growths, sores, and patches in the areas that usually get the most sun exposure such as your head, the shoulders, and back area.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma will appear as patches, skin growths, and sores on smaller parts of the body that are exposed to the sun, such as the ears and hands.
- Merkel cell carcinoma: This is a rarer but much more severe cancer that affects approximately 2,500 people per year. It begins in the hormone-producing cells. Merkel cell carcinoma will first appear as a firm lump in the skin that is painless, and it usually can be found on the neck, head, or eyelid area. It is severe due to how rapidly it can spread to the rest of the body as it is aggressive and fast-growing.
- Melanoma: Melanoma forms in the melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells. The early signs of melanoma include abnormal-looking moles that can form even in parts of the body that don’t usually get sun exposure, such as the thighs and small of the back.
How Can I Protect My Skin?
There are many easy ways that you can protect your skin if you have freckles!
1. Always wear sunscreen and reapply it periodically
Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 40. People with freckles are more susceptible to burning, so you will need a higher SPF. At least one tablespoon worth of sunscreen is necessary to give you adequate protection. You also need to apply sunscreen to your neck and ears as these areas are also very susceptible to burning. You have to reapply your sunscreen every three to four hours if you are going to be under the sun for the whole day.
2. Go for annual skin cancer screenings
Since people with freckles have a higher chance of getting skin cancer, it is important that you get checked regularly to ensure you don’t have cancer. Sunspots, moles, and abnormal markings can all be early symptoms of skin cancer, and it is hard to diagnose without a doctor’s advice. .
3. Check your body for abnormal marks
If you have moles, freckles, or sunspots, use this simple guide to check if your marks might be malignant:
Asymmetry: If you can halve the spot or freckle and they match up, it is symmetrical. Otherwise, it is asymmetrical. Asymmetrical moles are a warning sign.
Border: If the border of the spot is uneven and bumpy, this is a potential sign of a cancerous one. If it is smooth, it is probably benign.
Color: If your patches, spots, or moles come in a wide range of colors, that is a sign of something more serious.
Diameter: If the spot is bigger than a quarter of an inch, it is potentially cancerous.
Evolving: If the spot changes in size, shape, and becomes raised, it is potentially cancerous.
4. Add exfoliation to your skincare routine
Exfoliation is a super important step in your skincare because it helps remove dead skin cells that can build up on the surface of your skin. It also improves cell turnover so that the skin can renew itself to keep healthy, which is important for people with freckles! Get a chemical exfoliator such as alpha-hydroxy acids and exfoliate once or twice a week.
Having freckles will entail being more careful with your sun protection as your skin is more sensitive to the sun. As long as you apply sunscreen daily and stay out of the sun for prolonged periods of time, you will be just fine!
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