What are Freckles?
There are times when you feel that a few freckles have appeared on your face and they're growing more and more. The small spots that appear on the face or body are medically known as freckles. They are called that because of the fact that they resemble the colour of the soil, which is called freckle.
Freckles or lentigines are flat, melanin-rich spots that commonly appear on the face and neck and other sun-exposed areas in darker-skinned individuals. As a common and harmless condition, freckles usually develop during childhood and adolescence and then fade as the person grows older.
The word 'freckles' comes from the Dutch word 'vrecken' which means 'to fry' or 'to burn'. Freckles are flat or slightly elevated areas of discolouration that are present at birth or develop over time. The tiny clusters of melanin-containing cells are found in the skin's epidermis, the skin layer closest to the outer layer. They are usually seen on the face, neck, shoulders, arms, back, chest and legs. Freckles can also occur in children around their mouth, nose and eyes.
How to Lighten Freckles?
Freckles are those little spots of brown on your body that dull your overall complexion. They may appear as a result of sun exposure and can affect both men and women.
Freckles are caused by the overproduction of melanin in the skin and can be brought on by sun exposure. Melanin is like a chemical that's naturally produced by your skin and since melanin is brown, having too much of it gives you brown spots.
The first step to lightening them is the most obvious one: avoid excessive sun exposure. Try to stay out of the sun as much as possible, and make sure you always apply sunscreen. It may help to keep some sunscreen close by and apply it every time you spend some time outside.
Choose a sunblock cream with a high SPF, this way you can prevent freckles from darkening and appearing.
- Laser Treatment:
Laser treatment uses pulses of focused, intense light to target damaged areas of skin. There are different types of lasers. According to a study, the 1064 Q-Switched Nd YAG laser is effective for treating freckles. Study results showed treatment with this laser lightened more than 50% freckles in 62% of participants.
Laser treatment is usually safe and the risk of scarring is low. However, some minor side effects include swelling, itching, redness, peeling, change in skin colour, etc.
Make sure to take an antiviral medication before undergoing laser treatment if you have a history of oral herpes. This is because the laser can stimulate a sudden flare-up of herpes around your mouth.
Your doctor may prescribe other medications or creams before the procedure and may also recommend avoiding certain medications or products before the treatment. It may also take up to two weeks to recover from laser treatment and sometimes multiple sessions are also required to achieve desired results.
Cryosurgery uses extreme cold in the form of liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy abnormal skin cells. This type of treatment is usually safe and requires no anesthesia. The recovery period is also short. Some possible side effects include bleeding, blistering and hypopigmentation. Cryosurgery rarely causes scarring.
- OTC Fading Creams:
Fading creams or bleaching creams are available both OTC and by prescription. Many fading creams contain hydroquinone, which is an effective ingredient to suppress melanin production and lighten darkened areas of the skin. Possible side effects of using bleaching creams include inflammation, blistering, burning, dryness and skin discolouration.
- Chemical Peel:
A chemical peel uses a chemical solution to exfoliate and peel off areas of damaged skin. To remove freckles, a moderate skin peel containing glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid penetrates the skin’s middle layers and once damaged skin is removed, new skin cells get generated. Possible side effects of chemical peels include stinging, redness, peeling, irritation and swelling.
- Natural Remedies:
Natural remedies are not scientifically proven but are unlikely to cause harm when used in moderation. Therefore there are some natural remedies people swear by to get rid of freckles.
These natural remedies include:
Lemon juice: Apply lemon juice directly to your skin using a cotton ball and then wash it off after sometime. Lemon juice is thought to lighten the skin.
Honey: Mix honey with salt or sugar to make a scrub. Honey may help lighten pigmentation and sugar helps ward off dead skin cells.
Buttermilk: Applying buttermilk directly to your skin can potentially help lighten freckles as they are rich sources of lactic acid. You can also create a mask using buttermilk and oatmeal. Let it dry for 10 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water.
Sour cream: Apply a sour cream directly to your skin and then wash it off after a few minutes. Like buttermilk, sour cream also contains lactic acid.
Onion juice: Rub onion juice over your skin and then rinse it off using warm water. Onion can act as an exfoliator and may help lighten spots.
If you experience any irritation or discomfort, stop using these remedies immediately.
Freckles are usually harmless little spots on your skin that aren't contagious or caused by any disease or condition. They are caused by more exposure to sunlight. The likelihood of freckles appearing increases during your youth due to your skin being more sensitive to UV rays.
Freckles are most commonly found on the face, shoulders, forearms and the back of the neck with smaller clusters around the eyes, lips, chest and shoulders. Freckles are characterized by high concentrations of melanin in the epidermis that appear most prominent when exposed to sunlight. However, you can also get them due to continuous exposure to chemicals present in creams and other cosmetics.