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Can You Minimize Freckles?

People may have wildly different feelings about their freckles. Some people love them and feel that these features add character to their overall appearance. Others, however, may feel that their freckles inhibit the appearance of clear skin. If you fall into the latter category, you might wonder whether there’s a way to remove or minimize your freckles. While complete freckle removal is virtually impossible, you can certainly take steps to reduce their prominence.

What to Know About Minimizing Freckles

What are Freckles?

It’s important to understand where these tiny pigmented dots come from. Both environmental and genetic factors contribute to freckle formation. It is believed that certain individuals are more likely to develop freckles over time, especially if they have fair skin and a family history of freckles. Individuals who are genetically predisposed to freckles may acquire them after their skin is exposed to the sun for prolonged periods of time.

Sunlight leads to freckles thanks to the skin’s protective response to ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure. When exposed, melanocytes (skin pigment cells) approach the skin’s surface to provide a barrier that keeps the skin from harm temporarily. The melanin produced by the melanocytes may then remain present in small quantities. These are freckles: leftover traces of melanin at the top layers of skin.

Freckles themselves are harmless and merely cosmetic. However, acquiring freckles suggests that your skin has undergone some degree of sun damage.

Can you Remove Freckles?

It is possible to minimize the appearance of freckles. Some freckles fade or go away on their own, especially when the body is exposed to less sunlight. To fade stubborn freckles, you may have to take action. These measures include:

  • Laser treatments: targeted energy from a laser beam can stimulate the skin’s healing process, gradually diminishing the appearance of freckles
  • Chemical peels: chemicals such as glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid exfoliate the skin’s middle layers, encouraging new skin generation and reducing freckles
  • Cryosurgery: liquid nitrogen is applied to targeted areas of the skin to kill abnormal cells (such as freckles)
  • Bleaching/Fading creams: these creams contain hydroquinone, a substance which may suppress melanin production while lightening the skin overall

None of these treatments are guaranteed to remove or reduce freckles, and they may yield various side effects depending on your skin type and medical history. This is why it’s important to talk to your dermatologist about freckle minimization before undergoing any of these options.

Focus on Freckle Prevention

Ultimately, the best way to get a handle on your freckles is to prevent new freckles from forming. Fortunately, freckle prevention is relatively easy. The first step is to stay out of the sun for extended periods of time. And if you are soaking up sunlight, make sure you apply a 30+ SPF sunscreen to your skin beforehand and re-apply every couple of hours (or as directed). Additionally, you might try applying retinol cream to your freckled and/or sun damaged skin. This vitamin A compound provides additional protection from damage and freckle formation and may even contribute to the minimization of freckles over time.

If you’re fed up with your freckles, know that you can do something about it, and that the cosmetic dermatology experts at Premier Dermatology Partners can help. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.

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