As soon as the first rays of the sun appear, many golden brown spots appear on the skin. The sympathetic spots are freckles. The small spots were often hidden by their wearers behind a thick layer of make-up because they were considered a blemish. Fortunately this is no longer so frequent.
Meanwhile freckles are a sign of naturalness and are at the top of the popularity scale. Some women put on make-up on their own, and you can even tattoo them. But where do the little speckles come from and how do you properly care for freckled skin?
That makes too much sun with us
What are freckles?
If you are the proud owner of “Ephelids” – the medical term for freckles – you could thank your parents. Because freckles are inherited recessively. This means: Both parents must be carriers of the little dots in order to pass them on to their offspring.
The gene responsible is a harmless mutation of the so-called MC1R Gene that regulates the pigmentation of our skin. Ultimately, freckles are a collection of cells that have an increased concentration of the pigment melanin.
By the way: As the gene is responsible for freckles and red hairs, it is also known as the “ginger gene” (“redhead gene”).
A harmless mutation of the so-called MC1R -gene is responsible for freckled skin. © mangostock / Shutterstock.com
How do freckles develop?
A baby with freckles? Too cute to be true! While moles can decorate your skin from day 1, freckles only appear (and multiply) through direct contact with sunlight. Because they contain more melanin than “normal” skin, they tan faster and more intensely, and therefore stand out more quickly. Sweet spots usually appear for the first time at the age of 7 to 8 years.
At this point, we would like to directly dispel a persistent myth: freckles are not a form of skin damage caused by the sun. Freckles are simply a matter of (skin) type! “You can do everything right and the freckles will still appear”, reveals dermatologist Alicia Barba (Barba Dermatology, Miami).
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Do freckles need special sun protection?
Care should be taken not because of the freckles, but because of the underlying skin type: Pale skin types, combined with freckles, should always keep an eye on their skin and visit their dermatologist regularly (preferably twice a year).
Reason for this special precaution: This skin type has a higher risk of skin cancer. Additionally, the use of sun creams with a high sun protection factor (LSF 30 or higher!) an absolute must.
For women with freckles, daily sun protection is important all year round. That is why you should rely on a day cream with UV -protection can be used.
Sunspots become – and remain – significantly darker than freckles, regardless of contact with the sun. © mango stick / Shutterstock.com
What is the difference between freckles and sunspots?
Are you unsure whether the small spots on your skin are actually freckles or sun spots (Lentigo solaris)?
“Healthy freckles, without underlying damage, should intensify as soon as they come into contact with sunlight – and fade, even disappear, when you spend less time in the sun,” explains Francesca Fusco, Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. “Sunspots, on the other hand, become – and remain – significantly darker than freckles, regardless of contact with the sun.”
But you don’t need to worry if the fading of your freckles takes a little longer. Depending on where you live or go on holiday, the colour of the freckles can intensify or diminish more quickly or more slowly.
In addition, sunspots can be recognized by their outline as well as by their size: While freckles are only the size of a small dot, sunspots become much larger. Moreover, their outline is usually much more distinct.
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What helps against sunspots?
If you find sun spots on your skin, don’t freak out right away! Many of them are harmless and have no negative influence on your health. If you still don’t want to put up with them, you can tackle the stain with special bleaching creams. These are extremely effective, especially for light-coloured stains. Particularly stubborn sun spots, on the other hand, can be removed with the help of a suitable laser treatment by a dermatologist.
Some love their freckles, others want to hide them. We find: You should be happy about it. According to studies, freckle bearers automatically appear friendly to others. So you can literally earn “sympathy points”.