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Freckles are small brown spots on your skin that range in colour from red to brown. Do you ever wonder why do we get freckles? Read here to discover what are the causes and types of freckles. In most cases, freckles are harmless, but if you notice changes in size, colour, or shape of a freckle, see your doctor or dermatologist.

Causes of freckles

Both genetics and exposure to sun are the primary causes of freckles. Genes determine how many melanocytes you’re born with, the pigment that gives skin its color.

Freckles are also found commonly on the face, and you may also see them on body parts that are exposed to the sun the most, such as the chest, hands, arms, and legs. The more you spend under the sun, the more melanin is produced. So, don’t be surprised if your freckles fade in the winter and darken or return in the summer as it is completely normal. Freckles also tend to go away as people get older.

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Types of freckles

There are two basic types of freckles: ephelides and solar lentigines. Both are affected by sunlight. Ephelides are largely genetically determined but induced by sunlight, whereas lentigines are induced by sun exposure and photodamage of the skin and usually larger, darker.

Freckles: Causes, types & when to see a doctor

When to see a doctor

In most cases, freckles are harmless. Be sure to talk to a doctor or dermatologist who can check the skin for anything unusual, if a freckle: 

  • changes shape/colour/size
  • itches
  • grows
  • bleeds

People should take extra care when going out in the sun and wear sunscreen, especially those with fair skin that burns easily.

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