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What Causes Freckles

Freckles are dark spots or concentrated areas of melanin found on the skin and are often more noticeable on people with fair skin. The number, color and size of freckles can vary from person to person and are most noticeable on the face and arms. Freckles are genetic and you are more likely to have freckles if your parents do. Freckles often fade with age and many people who have freckles as a child “lose” their freckles as they get older. What cause freckles to develop? Read on to find out.

What causes freckles?
Freckles occur on the skin of people who genetically have the presence of the dominant melanocortin-1 receptor MC1R gene variant. This gene makes the skin produce more melanin when exposed to sunlight. Melanin is pigment found in our bodies that produce skin, hair and eye color. For people who are prone to freckles the exposure to the UV radiation from the sun causes the cells that create melanin, the melanocytes, to activate. These cells begin to produce more melanin causing dark spots on the skin or darkening already existing freckles. This happens in all people as a way to protect our skin from the effects of the sun. That is also the reason why we tan with exposure to UV radiation. In people who are prone to freckles the melanin production is not even, which produces the almond shaped spots we call freckles. Freckles tend to fade in the winter months where the UV radiation from the sun is lower and less likely to cause the melanocytes to activate.

Many people do not like the appearance of freckles and will have them treated with cosmetic creams and laser procedures. Even after these procedures if the skin is exposed to the sun without protection the freckles will reappear. People who have freckles are also more sensitive to UV radiation from sunlight and will suffer sunburn more easily.

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