What are Freckles?

Freckles are clusters of concentrated melanized cells (tan or light brown dots on your skin). Freckles are different from lentigines and moles and they are mostly visible on people with fair complexion but can also be seen on other skin tone as well. They are harmless and can be due to genetics and sun exposure.

Freckles appear when melanin (pigment that gives color to the skin) builds up under the skin. They may be brown or tan in color. Sun exposure and genetics play a very important role in developing freckles and they can start as early as at 3-4 years of age.

When do we need to treat freckles?

Freckles are harmless and don’t require any treatment except for the cosmetic concerns. People who don’t like freckles on their face can get it removed after consulting their dermatologist. One should see a dermatologist if the freckles or the spots increase in size or color variations are seen.

How safe is the treatment?

The treatment is very safe when done under supervision of a dermatologist. You must follow all the precautions as suggested by the doctor after the treatment to prevent any kind of problems.

Things to Know

Sunscreen and other sun protection measures like umbrella or wide brimmed hat should be used regularly to keep the freckles under control. Topical medicines like tretinoin, kojic acid, arbutin, etc can help to lighten the freckles. Chemical peels like TCA peel, Yellow peel and phenol peel can be done. Laser technology using Q switched Nd:yag or CO2 laser is also very effective.
Freckles are quite stubborn and tend to come back if you stop taking sun protection measures. Maintenence treatment sessions may be required for adequate control.

There are few precautions one must follow like;-

  • Using a sunscreen regularly every 2-3 hours during the daytime.
  • Avoiding direct sun exposure as this is one of the main reasons for freckles.
  • When outdoors, use a broad brimmed hat or umbrella also in addition to sunscreen.
Dr. Ruchi Agarwal, MD is a renowned dermatologist with almost 2 decades of experience in the field of dermatology. She says that freckles should be treated only for cosmetic reasons. However, a person with freckles should always use sun protective measures as there is an increased incidence of skin cancers in people with freckles.
Makeup should be totally avoided for 48-72 hours after the treatment. You should just stick to using a soothing moisturizer and sunscreen during this period.
There is no risk of making the skin sensitive in the long run. But peels or laser treatment can make your skin sensitive temporarily for initial 6-7 days. As this condition can come back post procedure also, one needs to use sunscreen properly in order to avoid recurrence of condition.
Different treatments may have different downtime. But in most of the treatments, one can presume around 7 days of downtime, and should plan the treatment accordingly.
You may feel some heat sensation during the laser treatment. A numbing cream is applied 35-40 minutes before the procedure on the area to be treated to make the treatment comfortable for you.
Freckles are usually seen on the exposed areas like face, neck, hand and forearms so treatment can be done in all these areas.
A prior consultation is required with the dermatologist to understand the need of the treatment. Medicines work hand in hand with the procedural treatments. Selection of the right treatment according to your needs, knowing the downtime of the individual treatment and its outcome are all important points which will be discussed with you. After a thorough consultation, you can opt for the suggested treatment and can get it done after taking a prior appointment for the same.

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