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The complexion of a person is determined by a pigment known as melanin. More the amount of melanin in a person, darker the complexion. The benefit of melanin is effective sun protection, and it prevents damage from sun exposure.
We have noticed people with dark (brown/black) spots that are darker than the surroundings skin. Commonly affected areas are the face, neck, hands, back, etc. These are melanin concentrated areas and become more visible in fair complexioned people. They are caused due to overproduction of melanin by the melanocytes, which are responsible for the production of melanin.
Now, what causes freckles is not clearly established, though the following are proposed.
- Exposure to sunlight: The cells responsible for melanin production absorb the sun and therefore produce excessive melanin. This is a natural defence mechanism of the skin.
- Ethnicity: Races with white skin are more likely to have freckles than races with darker skin.
- Weather: Some people tend to have freckles only in the summer with fairly clear skin during the winter.
- Genetics: If your parents or siblings have freckles, the chances of you having it are quite high.
- Tanning: Whether by natural means of greater exposure to the sun or artificially done if the salon, increases the chances of developing freckles.
Treatment: There are rumours stating that freckles are “angel kisses,” and “good night charms” and should not be removed as it would bring bad fortune. This is, however, not true and for purely cosmetic reasons, they need to be removed. The commonly affected age group (<30) also is cosmetically sensitive, and therefore the need to treat these.
Prevention is the best and the first solution. Whether by race, heredity, or lifestyle, if you are prone to develop freckles, ensure you are taking the necessary steps to avoid getting freckles in the first place. Avoid sun exposure without sun protection, avoid tanning, and you will be surprised how you can actually prevent freckles. Watch out for weather changes and avoid sun exposure. Reducing the amount of sun exposure can also help in keeping the freckles light, thereby not making too much of a cosmetic concern.
If prevention is not possible, some of the effective treatment measures include:
- Topical creams: These contain bleaching agents like Retin-A. One disadvantage though is that it acts on the entire skin and not just the freckles.
- Laser: A beam of the laser is used to get rid of the unwanted melanocytes which produce melanin. It also improves skin tone and colour.
- Cryotherapy: Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the melanin-producing cells, thereby removing freckles.
After treating freckles, preventing freckle formation with limiting sun exposure and sun protection is extremely essential.