Practically everyone has freckles to some capacity, and they’re especially common with those who have light hair and skin. While they’re a benign and common characteristic of skin, some find them unsightly or feel they have too many.
Freckles, or ephelides as they’re known in the scientific community, are areas on the skin that have more pigmentation than others. Freckles form when melanocytes overproduce melanin granules, or melanosomes which concentrate in small, rounded spots on the skin. While they are more noticeable on fair skin, they can appear on all skin types. Freckles most commonly appear on the face, but can appear anywhere on the body. Certain genetics increase your likelihood of having or developing freckles, and some common traits for this predisposition include red hair and pale, sensitive skin.
Freckles are most often completely harmless, but they can result from sun damage in some cases. Sunburn freckles are larger than others, and most often appear on the shoulders, neck, face and arms. Since these areas are most exposed to sunlight, freckles from sun damage tend to cluster on these parts of the body. Regular freckles tend to lighten in color with less sun exposure, while freckles from sun damage usually maintain a similar color. Sun damage can accumulate and cause skin cancer, which can be deadly. So in some ways, freckles are one of the best natural warning signs of how much sun damage your skin has endured.
If you’re fed up with freckles and how they affect your appearance, don’t despair. There are ways that you can treat your freckles and ease the appearance of these blemishes. Laser treatments are an incredible tool used in both cosmetic and medical dermatology. Lasers are highly focused beams of light. Depending on what needs to be treated, the focus, color, and wavelength of the laser can vary drastically. For treating freckles, the focus is rather concentrated and precise. Since freckles are small and usually in high contrast to skin, the laser device can target them very quickly and efficiently. The pigmentation in a freckle absorbs this light and the melanosomes are destroyed. The skin that forms in the place of this neutralized pigment is free of irregularity.
The side effects of laser treatment on freckles is limited. Most notably, you may experience short-term redness that resembles a sunburn. In other cases, a purpuric rash may result from laser treatment. Essentially, this rash occurs where the freckles were themselves, appearing as red spots. Once these spots heal in about a week, freckles will no longer be visible.
While there are a wide variety of treatments out there for reducing freckles and other irregular skin pigmentation, laser therapy is the best bet. Depending on how many freckles you have, treatment times can vary from an hour to multiple hour long sessions. Some discomfort is to be expected during and after treatment, but you can usually go about your daily life immediately after treatment. You should avoid certain skincare products and exposure to sunlight both leading up to and following laser treatment for freckles as well.
Bid your freckles a less-than-fond farewell with laser treatment. If you’re looking to fight freckles head-on, reach out to the experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates.
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