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Freckles – charming or alarming?

Freckles – charming or alarming?

Keep an eye on these beauty marks. They’re not as benign as they look.

Thanks to some Hollywood stars, freckles are the new beauty marks. Instead of showing off spotless complexions, celebrities are loud and proud of their speckled facades. “Why hide behind all that makeup?” “Freckles make you unique.”

In fact, there’s a growing freckle trend, and fans have gone the extra mile by getting freckle tattoos.

While we applaud the idea of embracing what makes you different, here’s the thing: freckles, real ones, are not always as benign as they appear.

What are freckles?

They’re small and flat, brown or dark yellow spots that can appear alone or in a cluster. They’re usually hereditary, and usually seen on very fair-skinned people. But freckles can also be caused by overexposure to the sun, and can also appear on darker-skinned people. Skin darkening is the body’s natural protection against harmful UV rays, so the appearance of freckles is a sign of mild sun damage.

When do I start to panic?

Firstly, don’t panic. You may have just started noticing your freckles. Have a look at old photos to see if these spots have been with you forever, have darkened with age or have only recently developed.

If you’ve been applying sunscreen daily and avoiding overexposure to the sun, then freckles are quite harmless.

But if you’ve noticed one or two odd-looking freckles, there’s a chance it could be something more serious, like melanoma, a type of skin cancer, and it’s worth checking with your dermatologist.

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Define odd-looking freckles.

 

Melanoma manifests itself in large and oddly-shaped spots and moles. Normal ones are symmetrical and relatively small (less than 6mm in diameter), have clear borders and one color, and don’t change over time. If a spot or mole has started to grow, has an irregular shape and border, is multi-colored or has started to itch, even bleed, it’s time to see a doctor. If caught early enough, melanoma is completely treatable.

Preventing sun damage is much easier than treating it. Save yourself the stress of worrying by being vigilant about sun protection. On top of that, keep your skin hydrated to enhance its natural defense against external aggressors.

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