What are Freckles?


I have always joked about my fair complexion and my freckles When I was younger my grandfather told me that the crust on my bread would give me more freckles. While I know my freckles are not caused by my eating habits I have begun to wonder why I get freckles in the first place.

 According to Merriam Webster a freckle is " any of the small brownish spots in the skin due to augmented melanin production that increase in number and intensity on exposure to sunlight"

With this definition in mind I began to consider what is melanin, I have heard of it in reference to skin before, but what I found was that melanin, is what gives any animal or plants there color.

According to  The Tech museum of innovation, freckles  or melanin spots can be either genetic or caused by the sun. Those freckles that are caused by the sun are a reaction of the melanin in a person skin with the UV light. The melanin in skin darkens as a reaction with the UV rays. This darkening process usually has a tanning effect.

For some the melanin in there skin is not even spread, leaving clumps. These clumps, darken at a different rate than the rest of the skin leaving behind  small areas of pigmented skin, freckles rather than tan.

Some freckles are not all related to sun exposure some are caused by genetics are generally caused by  MC1R gene malfunction.

 This gene is not only responsible for freckles but also red pigment of hair, depending on the version of each of the gene an individual gets form their mother and father, the effect of the MC1R gene can manifest its self in both red hair and freckles or just one of the two.

            It is possible that there are other causes for freckles a recent study by chinese scientists has  indicated there might be a chromosome that determines if a person has freckles.

Often the issue with freckles comes with an increased risk for skin cancer, due to lighter complexion and less pigment to protect the skin form burning in the sun, put those with a lighter complexion at a greater risk. In order to protect yourself from the suns harmful ways a variety of methods, including using UVA/UVB sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.



For many people freckles may not be a problem, but for others they may indicate a life long struggle with skin protection. Would you consider changing your routine to protect yourself from the sun? Increase sunscreen usage or decrease tanning? Do you ever have your freckles checked for abnormalities? Why or why not?







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