A freckle is a flat, dark spot, generally smaller than 5mm in diameter, where cells have produced extra melanin. This pigment prevents ultraviolet light from reaching the skin’s deeper layers. Melanin is essentially a natural sun blocker.
Freckles are hereditary, so they do not indicate inadequate sun protection. However, they do become more prominent with sun exposure and fade or disappear without it. They also become less noticeable as you age.
About Sun Spots
A sun spot (also called actinic keratoses, liver spots, age spots, senile lentigines or solar lentigines) is a flat, dark skin mark larger than a freckle, typically ranging from 0.2 to 2.0 centimeters. It appears after repeated sun exposure and usually later in life, from the mid-thirties onward (hence, the name age spots).
Sun spots consist of multiple pigmented cells lumped together, which is why they are bigger. They tend to appear on your face, back, shoulders and the back of your hands because those are the parts of your body most often exposed to sunlight. Unlike freckles, they become more noticeable as you age. Thus, cosmetic treatments are necessary if you wish to remove them.
Are Freckles or Sun Spots Harmful?
Freckles and sun spots are benign, so they are not harmful. However, any pigmentation carries the risk of skin cancer, so you should monitor them and contact us at Medical Dermatology Specialists if you notice any irregularities or changes to their appearance.
Freckles are harmless, but sun spots, in particular, require special attention because they are pre-cancerous lesions that can develop into skin cancer. Therefore, removing them can be beneficial for cosmetic and medical health reasons.
Removing Sun Spots
Our highly-qualified team at Medical Dermatology Specialists can examine your skin and determine if any of your sun spots are pre-cancerous. If so, we offer various effective brown spot removal methods, like chemical peels and liquid nitrogen applications. Which treatment you receive will be based on your specific needs.
Preventing Sun Spots
Since sun spots can reappear even after treatment, preventive measures are critical. For example, you can protect your skin from UV light by applying broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion (over SPF 30 and water-resistant) to your body daily before leaving the house. Then, re-apply it every few hours as directed.
Other things you can do to prevent sun spots include avoiding the sun altogether between 10 am and 3 pm, avoiding tanning beds and covering your skin with clothes.
Effective Sun Spot Treatment in Atlanta
If you have worrisome sun spots, you can rely on Medical Dermatology Specialists in Atlanta to monitor and, if necessary, eliminate this pre-malignant skin condition.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Jamie Weisman, Medical Dermatology Specialists, Inc.
Medical Dermatology Specialists, Inc.
5730 Glenridge Dr, Suite T-100
Atlanta, GA 30328
Monday – Thursday 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM