The Duchess of Sussex, or formerly known as Meghan Markle, embraced hers during her wedding day. Other famous people who are also known to flaunt them proudly are the Duke of Sussex himself, Prince Harry, Alicia Keys (American singer-songwriter and musician), Emma Watson (former Harry Potter star), Morgan Freeman (American actor, producer and narrator) to name a few. What are we referring to, you ask? Freckles! Freckles can be such a debatable topic for something that is so common, and a genetic gift from Mother Nature herself. The beauty and fashion world has both shunned freckles, deeming even-toned complexions as the ideal perfect skin. It wasn’t until the Duchess of Sussex who openly embraced her freckles during her wedding day, did freckles found themselves in favour with the public again. Below is a list of the different types of pigmented lesions and marks you may encounter.
Most of us think that the small, dark marks on the face and body are freckles but the actual freckles are commonly found on younger skin during childhood. There are three main types of skin pigmentation that develop into different skin conditions as we grow older. Freckles, also known as ephelides, are small, flat, light brown marks that fluctuate with the seasons. The development of freckles are due to overproduction of melanin pigment caused by the melanocytes, which is in direct response to ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. This direct response usually occurs in people who have a variant of a particular gene known as MC1R. Redheads, pale-skinned people, people who burn easily and faster under the sun tend to have this variant. Freckles are most prominent on exposed areas of the skin and generally tend to fade during the cold winter months.
Solar lentigo is a flat, brown mark, non-cancerous and can develop anywhere on the body, and are commonly known as liver spots or age spots. They are commonly found on the forearms, back of the hands, face and shoulder. Once solar lentigo appear on your face, they generally do not fade off in the cold winter months. Solar lentigo that appear on your back have been linked to sunburnt incidents that happened during childhood. Proper usage of sun protection and covered clothing can lower the possibility of new lesions emerging in the future.
Lentigo Maligna Melanoma
While freckles and solar lentigines are harmless and non-cancerous, it can be difficult to differentiate them with a type of skin cancer known as lentigo maligna melanoma. It looks like a flat, brown or black, irregular-shaped lesion that grows very slowly on overexposed areas like the face, neck and forearms. Monitor your freckles and seek medical help if you notice brown spots that have multiple colours or irregular-shaped borders.
Melasma is quite common in people who are dark-skinned like the Mediterraneans or those who tan easily. Melasma are usually larger and darker patches of pigmentation that are sharply demarcated and strangely configured. Melasma are also known as pregnancy masks as women tend to experience this as their bodies undergo hormonal changes. Places where melasma can occur include the temples, cheeks, above the upper lip and forehead.
Darker skin tones tend to encounter post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). These are usually stubborn brown patches which are triggered by inflammation in the skin, like acne, trauma or eczema. Melanin pigment located in the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin surface, are easily treated.
How Can We Treat Freckles
The best advice is to use sun protection and wear appropriate clothing when you are out under the sun. If you have existing freckles, applying the highest SPF will not be able to reduce them, but it can prevent new ones from developing. You should be applying SPF at least 20 minutes prior to exposing yourself to the sun as it takes time for the sun protection to be fully absorbed by your skin. You should also be reapplying every two hours to ensure your skin is constantly protected.
Using ingredients you can easily find in your kitchen or the supermarket, you can create your own natural remedies to treat your freckles. One way you can do so is by applying lemon juice to your skin with a cotton pad before washing your face as usual. Lemon juice is thought to have brightening and lightening properties that can lighten your freckles. Another way you can treat your freckles naturally is by creating your own honey scrub. Combine honey with sugar or salt to make a scrub. Rub in circular motions, paying attention to areas with the pigmented marks. Honey is thought to be able to combat the pigmentation. Or create your own mask buttermilk. Mix buttermilk with oatmeal and apply it liberally on your face. Leave the mask on for 10 minutes before washing off as usual. As buttermilk has lactic acid, it is thought to be able to lighten your pigmented marks.