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Freckles vs. Age Spots

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A common question that I get asked is "What is the difference between freckles and age spots? It is then usaully followed by "What causes them and how do you I get rid of them?" So I decided to dedicate a blog to answering these questions.


Freckles (also known as ephelides) are small flat brown spots that appear on sun-exposed skin, especially the face and arms. Freckles are inherited and become darker with consistent sun exposure. Ultraviolet rays from the sun activate pigment producing skin cells (melanocytes) to produce pigment (melanin). Increased melanin is manifested as dark or brown spots on the skin.

What causes freckles?-
Freckles are commonly found on the face and hands, and any other part of the body that has been overexposed to the sun. Freckles are among the many signs of photoaging. Photoaging occurs when excessive sun exposure speeds the skin's natural aging process.

 Treatment Options

Although it is not medically necessary to treat freckles, patients often seek treatment for cosmetic reasons. Potential treatments include topical bleaching creams, topical retinoidschemical peels, liquid nitrogen, and laser or pulsed light therapy.

Although freckles themselves are harmless, it is important to distinguish between freckles and a type of skin cancer called melanoma. If you have freckles, you have a higher risk of melanoma. Also, if your freckles are growing or changing, it is important see your physician for a skin check.

Age Spots, Sun Spots & Liver Spots

Age spots are also known as sun spots, liver spots, lentigos, or lentigines. These lesions are flat, tan, brown, or dark brown spots on sun-exposed skin. As people age, sun spots most commonly appear on the backs of the hands, the forearms, neck, chest, and face. Sun spots are associated with cumulative sun exposure. The pigment producing cells in the skin (called melanocytes) are activated to produce more pigment (melanin) by ultraviolet rays. While these spots are not themselves cancerous, you may be at risk for skin cancer if you have them.

What causes age spots?

Age spots increase with age and with increased sun exposure. They are more common in people who freckle and who burn easily. It is important to know that if you've had enough sun to develop age spots, you have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.

Top Age Spot Treatment Options:

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