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Freckles are nail-head sized areas of the skin where melanin is highly concentrated. The more melanin a person produces, the darker the pigment of their skin. Freckles exist in the basal layer of the epidermis. Freckles are found more frequently in people with lighter complexions. Freckles themselves are not cancerous, but cancerous brown spots can be hidden within freckles and people who get freckles are at a higher risk for melanoma. Common locations are cheeks, shoulders, upper arms, and nose. Freckles tend to be a shade darker than the person’s skin tone, but they can range anywhere from yellow to red to tan. Freckles can begin appearing as early as one year of age. The two types of skin freckling are simple (ephilides) and sunburn (lentigines ). Freckles can be prevented by using strong sunscreen and avoiding sun exposure such as tanning. Exposure of the skin to sun causes an increase in the amount of melanin’s dark pigment. When the concentrated areas of melanin darken, freckles appear. Some possible remedies for freckles include topical creams, chemical peels, and laser therapy.
Q1: Have freckles been found to be hereditary? (S. Bamber)
A1: Yes. The occurrence of freckles is a combination of sun exposure and hereditary components. In various studies, freckles have shown to be linked with genetic inheritance between family members. Lighter skin types with red and blonde hair are most susceptible to freckles, and these are inherited traits. The clustering of melanocytes which causes freckling is based in genetic factors.

Q2: i have known people who were born with freckles and as they got older their freckles dissapeared, what causes this? (M.White)
A2: As skin cells mature into old age, certain processes no longer function as well. This includes the production of melanin. Older people often tend to be more pale, and this same effect occurs within the clusters of melanocytes that cause freckles.

Q3: Can freckles fade on their own? (C.Muth)
A3: Some do. Most freckles are a response to sun exposure, like a tan, and so if the person stayed out of the sun, their freckles would most likely fade. This type of freckles are called ephilides. The other type, lentigines, are darker, and they never disappear.

Q4: Why is it freckles are more likely to appear on lighter skinned people? (CRICH)
A4: People with lighter skin are more susceptible to the damaging effects of UV rays. Freckles and tanning of the skin are an effort to protect skin cells from sun damage, so lighter-skinned people have more frecklesand burn more easily.

Q5: can freckles become darker or lighter over time? (G.Wilson)
A5: A more time in intense sunlight can cause a darkening in freckles, and more time out of the sun allows the melanocytes to slow production of melanin, and therefore freckles can become lighter. Ephilides can disappear, but lentigines are permanent.