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Freckles on Face: Causes, Prevention, Removal

Not everyone needs to practice the same level of skin protection. Certain skin types are at greater risk for developing sun damage and even skin cancer. There are six different types of skin identified by the Skin Cancer Foundation, and knowing which category you fall into can greatly improve your skin protection routine and chances of remaining cancer free. Considering skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, protection is more important than ever.

Type 1: If you’re out in the sun for too long you always burn and never tan, which means you are extremely vulnerable and can develop skin cancers like basal and squamous cell carcinoma. The risk of developing melanoma is extremely high. SPF 30 broad spectrum should be worn at all times, and check the skin for unusual growths once a month, and have a professional do a full body check up at least once a year. They typically have freckles, which can be an indicator for doctors to visually see the possible dangers.

Type 2: You usually burn and barely tan when out in the sun and highly susceptible to developing skin cancer, and should follow the same sunscreen protection routines, as someone with the fairest of skin.

Types 3: Those with this type of skin can tan in the sun without getting burnt and are susceptible to developing skin cancer, so it is important to perform regular checks on yourself every month to look for abnormal growths and marks. SPF 30 broad spectrum sunscreen should be applied and staying in the shade between 10am and 4pm is advised.

Currently, there are over 3.5 million in over two million people diagnosed with skin cancer every year. In the last 30 years, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer than any other cancer, which could be a direct relation on the cultural affects of tan skin as a desirable characteristic.

Why do people get freckles anyway? Skin cells have melanocytes, which are specialized cells designed to protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays (UV) produced by the sun. The protection melanocytes produce is melanin, which works by darkening the skin as it’s exposed by more sun. If melanocytes are clumped together, sun exposure will scatter with dark spots and if you weren’t born with freckles at all, they can still develop from repeated sun exposure, typically on the hands and face. Unfortunately, people born with freckles or develop freckles overtime due to prolonged sun exposure, are at a higher risk for skin cancer.

Freckles usually appear during childhood and on areas of the body that are most frequently exposed to the sunlight, such as the face, hands, arms, chest and shoulders. Freckles are usually relatively harmless and there is no reason to treat them or laser them off, unless of course they’re aesthetically displeasing. Always using a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 at least or higher, but it’s especially important for people who freckle easily or who already have freckles, for example, light-skinned, blue-eyed people. If the freckles are changing shape or developing suddenly at a rapid rate, it’s always a good idea to schedule a full-body checkup with a certified dermatologist.

About author - Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, MD, FAAD, FAACS, is the founder and medical director of the New York Cosmetic, Skin, & Laser Surgery Center. Dr. Rokhsar is a graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Rokhsar is double board certified in dermatology and micrographic dermatologic surgery, being one of the few select dermatologists in the country who is also fellowship trained in laser surgery. A researcher and innovator, Dr. Rokhsar is the creator of the non-surgical nose job and has been instrumental in the research and development of laser systems such as the Fraxel, CO2, Mirady, Vbeam, Themitight, and Ulthera devices. An Associate Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Dr. Rokhsar actively teaches the cosmetic dermatology clinic to the resident at Mount Sinai. An expert injector of fillers, and a trainer for many companies, patients fly in from around the world to see Dr. Rokhsar in his Garden City and Manhattan offices in New York.

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