We don’t all share the same feelings about freckles. While some freckle-faced people embrace their appearance, others feel self-conscious about these pigmented speckles. If you fall into this latter category, you might wonder whether you can free your face from freckles forever. But can you really get rid of freckles? Let’s explore what freckles are, how they form, and what you can do to reduce their appearance.
Freckles are assortments of pigment cells, the skin cells that provide skin with color. These spots are darker than the surrounding skin and may appear darker or lighter depending on the time of year (sun exposure plays a role here). Freckles are often found on the face, arms, and chest but can pop up on other areas of the body as well, especially those that are frequently exposed to the sun. Fortunately, freckles don’t point to or cause any health problems. In other words, there’s no medically necessary reason to get rid of freckles -- it’s purely a cosmetic choice to do so.
So, what causes freckles anyway? While the precise answer to this question remains a mystery, certain factors may make someone more prone to freckle development than others. Having fairer skin or light/red hair, for instance, often correlates with a greater likelihood and number of freckles. Sun exposure can also cause and/or reveal freckles, especially in those with some of the genetic predispositions just mentioned. If your skin is prone to freckling, exposing your skin to the sun for extended periods of time can make them more prominent.
If your freckles run rampant across your skin, reducing their appearance can feel like an uphill battle. With proper precautions and practices, however, you can reduce the appearance of your freckles. For starters, you’ll want to limit your sun exposure as much as possible. When you do spend time outdoors (regardless of season or weather), wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapplying every 2 hours (or as directed) will not only prevent sun damaged skin but also keep your freckles from darkening. Taking good care of your skin via exfoliation and moisturization can also tame your freckles. Vitamin A found in retinol creams may also mitigate your freckles, though you’ll want to discuss this treatment option with your dermatologist before trying it. Lastly, strategic makeup application can greatly reduce the appearance of (if not completely conceal) your freckles.
The tips mentioned above can go a long way toward diminishing the prominence of your freckles, but they won’t get rid of them entirely. If you’re looking for a more thorough and permanent solution to your freckle woes, you might ask your dermatologist about chemical peel treatments. For freckle removal/reduction, a moderate glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid peel may be used to remove the middle layers of skin, prompting new skin cells to form. After about two weeks (which is how long it takes to heal from such a chemical peel), you might notice that your freckles have significantly lightened and that your skin retains a more even complexion.
Laser therapy is another effective cosmetic dermatology treatment for removing freckles. Whereas chemical peels use particular acids to remove layers of skin, laser treatments use pulses of intense light to target specific areas of the skin, stimulating cell turnover that can result in effective freckle reduction. Both chemical peels and laser treatments have associated risks and side effects, including swelling, itching, redness, irritation, and more. Your dermatology provider can help you navigate the potential pros and cons of both options.
With preventative measures and procedures like the ones mentioned above, you really may be able to get rid of your freckles. At the very least, you can drastically decrease their prominence. Let the experts at North Pacific Dermatology help you free your skin from freckles. Set up a consultation with our team today.