What Are Your Freckles Trying To Tell You?

What Are Your Freckles Trying To Tell You

First of all, freckles are normal. With baby bumps and hair makeovers, the bare-faced freckle reveal has become an Instagram moment. Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid all shared theirs with fanfare. Kesha even used her revelation to send a self-esteem message in the New Year.
A handful of freckles look youthful and soft, like the signature of pretty makeup, but, one wonders, where do they come from? “Freckles are caused due to an overproduction of melanin as your skin tries to protect you from the sun,” says Annie Chiu, MD, a dermatologist in the Los Angeles area. When UV light is absorbed by the cells called melanocytes, they produce more melanin as a defense mechanism, hence the tan. Why some people have freckles while others don’t? According to New York dermatologist Carlos Charles, MD, this is usually due to a specific gene common to redheads, but they can appear on any skin tone, even those without the gene. Below, Dr. Charles and Chiu answers all of your questions related to freckle, including how to point cancerous growth versus sunspot.

Here’s what your freckles are trying to tell

That’s the key: Freckles on their own aren’t unhealthy, but they indicate your skin may be at risk. Of course, the use of sunscreen is important for any skin tone; the presence of freckles just raises the bar.
Whatever your genes, cancer risk spots could be mistaken for harmless freckles if you don’t pay attention. The average freckle is reddish brown and fades in winter, when the skin is less exposed to the sun. And moles, the spots most likely to turn cancerous, tend to be darker and raised, and can appear anywhere on the body, even in areas you can’t easily see. If not sure, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Chiu suggests an annual skin check of your whole body.

Spot check

While freckles and sun spots usually don’t turn cancerous, moles can, and it can be difficult to tell them apart. Keep an eye on all of your spots and if you notice any of these five signs, see a dermatologist.


When the halves of a dot do not match, it can be a sign of irregular cells.


Clever moles tend to have jagged, nicked, or bumpy edges.


An inconsistent color in the mole signals a possible problem.


Anything over 1/4 inch can be cancerous.


It is important to report any changes in size, shape, color, or elevation to a doctor.

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