What are freckles?Freckles, also known as ephelides, are 2 mm to 4 mm tan, discrete specks or spots which develop over sun-exposed surfaces, particularly the cheeks and nose. They are most common in fair-skinned individuals. Microscopically, the freckle is distinguished by increased melanin production. They are first noticed during childhood and are common in fair-skinned individuals. Usually occurring on the face, they darken on sun exposure. The spots develop randomly on the skin, especially after repeated exposure to sunlight and particularly in persons of fair complexion. Freckles vary in color -- they may be red,
yellow, tan, light-brown, brown, or black -- but they are always darker than the skin around them since they are due to deposits of the dark pigment called melanin. The word "freckle" comes from the Middle English "freken," which, in turn, came from the Old Norse "freknur," meaning "freckled." (Some speakers of Old English and Old Norse must have had a tendency to developing freckles.)
Freckles are small brownish spots on human skin, predominantly found on the face. Predisposition to freckles is genetic, though exposure to sunlight is a factor in how many appear. The gene for freckling is related to the presence of red hair. Based on recent genetic research, it has been suggested that this gene had Neanderthalic origins. (The basis of the claim is the age of the gene; this is not in itself proof, since Homo erectus pre-existed the Neanderthals.)
Freckles are small flat brown marks arising on the face and other sun exposed areas. They are seen in children and in fair skinned people especially those with red hair who have an inherited predisposition for them. On the face and other areas exposed to the sun they are an inherited characteristic. These small brown marks are most often seen in fair skinned people, especially those with red hair. Known as ephilides, the colour is due to pigment accumulating in the skin cells (keratinocytes). Ephilides are prominent in summer but fade considerably or disappear in winter as the keratinocytes are replaced by new cells. As the person ages this type of freckle generally become less noticeable. Apart from sun protection, no particular treatment is necessary.
Larger flat brown spots on the face and hands arising in middle age also result from sun damage exposure. Unlike freckles they tend to persist for long periods and don't disappear in the winter (though they may fade). Commonly known as age spots or liver spots, the correct term for a single lesion is benign solar lentigo (plural lentigines). Lentigines are common in those with fair skin but are frequently seen in those who tan easily or have naturally dark skin. Lentigines are due to accumulated pigment cells (melanocytic hyperplasia).
If the brown marks are scaly, they may be solar keratoses (sun damage) or seborrhoeic keratoses (senile warts). These are usually treated by cryotherapy. It is important to distinguish the benign solar lentigo from an early malignant melanoma, the lentigo maligna. If the freckle has arisen recently, is made up of more than one colour or has irregular borders or if you have any doubts, see your dermatologist for advice. They fade in winter and, in the absence of sunscreen, increase in number and darken in the summer. They have no malignant potential, and no treatment, apart from sunscreen, is recommended.