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Why Have I suddenly Developed Freckles?

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. September 30, 2018
Why Have I suddenly Developed Freckles?

Freckles are brown or beige, flat, circular spots that usually develop on skin which is sun-exposed. People that carry fair complexions and red hair often have higher chances of developing freckles. Freckles may appear on children as young as 1-2 years of age. These freckles may appear in various colors, which include: tan, black, brown, light brown, yellow, pink or red, often darker than the nearby skin. Freckles often disappear or become lighter during the winter months, when your skin is less exposed to the sun.

However, as the summer months become warmer and sun exposure increases, you may wonder why am I getting freckles all of a sudden? To find out more, keep reading here at OneHOWTO.

You may also be interested in: Why do I Have Red Spots on my Face


  1. Why do I get freckles?
  2. What are the different types of freckles?
  3. Why do freckles suddenly appear on protected skin
  4. Are freckles harmful?
  5. How to avoid freckles
  6. How can I treat freckles?

Why do I get freckles?

Freckles are believed to develop as a result of both genetic inheritance and sun exposure. Sun emits ultraviolet rays that your skin absorbs, due to which production of melanin increases. This increased melanin unusually deposits at particular spots of your skin, resulting in freckles. People with fair skin, light color eyes and red or blond hair are more likely to develop freckles.

What are the different types of freckles?

There are different types of freckles, which include:

  • Ephelides: are are 1-2mm flat spots which are light brown, reddish or tanned in color. These freckles typically become more visible during summer months. They often develop on very light skin. People with green eyes and red hair have more chances of getting ephelides. You can avoid the appearance of ephelides by avoiding excessive sun exposure and using sunscreen.
  • Lentigines: are pigmented spots that are a little larger in size and often occur at a site of sun damage and sunburn. They are often darker than common freckles and do not usually fade away in winter. These spots are referred to as solar lentigo or lentigo simplex. Occasional lentigines are a rare genetic condition in which the spots are isolated and non-prominent.
  • Age spots or liver spots: these are solar lentigines which often appear on the back of people’s hands.
  • Moles: are black or brown slightly elevated bumps that are benign skin growths. Moles may occur in varying sizes. They begin as brown, flat spots that often look like lentigos. But they tend to gradually thicken and form a waxy appearance on the surface. They are also formed on skin areas that are generally exposed to sun, but may appear on sun-protected areas as well. People aged 40 or more often develop moles.
Why Have I suddenly Developed Freckles? - What are the different types of freckles?

Why do freckles suddenly appear on protected skin

Freckles that appear on skin areas covered from the sun are not often dangerous. They have little chance of being cancerous. There is however a rare axillary freckling which often occurs under a condition known as neurofibromatosis. Neurofibromatosis is a rare inherited disease in which freckles become different in appearance as well as distribution.

  • Hutchinson’s freckle is also known as lentigo maligna melanoma which is a particular cancer type of freckle. This is a less frequent skin cancer that usually develops on the face area of adults who are considerably exposed to sun. If left untreated, they gradually develop into malignant melanoma that can be diagnosed through a skin biopsy.
  • Melanoma is another type of skin cancer that can appear on areas both exposed or not exposed to sun. The exact cause of this cancer is still unknown, but ultraviolet rays definitely play an important role in their appearance. Melanoma can develop on a mole or pigmented spot. It may also develop on normal skin without any pre-existing mole or spot. As compared to common freckles, melanomas are darker in color, bigger in size and are irregular in shape. Melanomas are flat and are not raised in surface.

Are freckles harmful?

Usually, freckles themselves are harmless and do not pose any threat to skin or overall health. However, it is important to make sure that they are in fact freckles, as they may be easily confused with other serious skin conditions.

If you notice the appearance of any pigmented spots, we recommend always consulting your dermatologist for a general check-up. Although common freckles are harmless, most people are concerned about them specifically in terms of cosmetic reasons. If you do not like the look of your freckles, there are ways to lighten them. However, you should consult your doctor if you notice any of these following symptoms:

  • If the border of your mole is notched, bumpy or uneven.
  • If your freckles are in a variety of colors.
  • A freckle or mole larger than ¼ inches.
  • Immediately notify your doctor if you notice any significant chance in the: color, shape, elevation or size of your freckles.

The risk of skin cancer increases with the number of freckles on your skin. The more freckles you have, the increased risk you have of suffering from skin cancer. Increased risk of skin cancer include: red hair, blue eyes, fair skin, excessive sun exposure, extreme tanning, history of skin cancer (non-melanoma). We recommend visiting your doctor or dermatologist for annual screenings, specifically if you notice the development of new freckles or if you fall under any of the above mentioned risk categories.

How to avoid freckles

In order to avoid freckles, we suggest using waterproof sunscreen with a minimum of 30 in SPF. After applying, wait for 15 minutes before going into the sun. You must not only apply sunscreen in summer, but also in winter, to avoid further pigmentation. Products like alpha hydroxyl acids, trichloracetic acid, phenol and acid peels are found to be effective in preventing occurrence of freckles.

Why Have I suddenly Developed Freckles? - How to avoid freckles

How can I treat freckles?

Laser therapy may be used to either eliminate or lighten freckles. Fractional resurfacing laser treatment has proven to be successful in removing freckles not only from the face area, but also from one’s chest and upper shoulders.

Such types of therapy targets the moisture trapped inside your skin’s layers, reaching your dermis’s middle layer and expelling old epidermal pigmented cells. Due to this, collagen is remodeled and new collagen is formed, thus eliminating freckles from your skin’s surface.

If you seek medical treatment to remove freckles, your dermatologist may recommend using: retinoid creams, cryotherapy, hydroquinone and/or chemical peels . These medicines work by destroying pigmented skin areas and renewing skin cells, in order for your skin to appear freckle-free.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Have I suddenly Developed Freckles?, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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Why Have I suddenly Developed Freckles?