the past year, I have developed a number of small brown
blotches on my face that darken when Iím in the sun. The
spots lightened a bit over the winter, but Iím concerned
they will darken again this summer. What causes this, and is
there a way to avoid it from worsening? I am 25 and otherwise
you are describing sounds like ephelides ó also known as
freckles. These small areas of extra pigmentation on the skin
get darker when they are exposed to sunlight during the
summer, and then they tend to fade during the winter. Freckles
typically are not a sign of an underlying skin disorder, and
they do not require any treatment. Check them from time to
time, though. If you notice any changes, such as one of the
spots growing larger or developing an irregular border, see a
dermatologist to have it checked.
most often appear tan, brown or red. Unlike some other dark
skin patches, such as moles, they are flat rather than raised
from the skin. Freckles are most common in people with fair
skin and in those who have red hair. Freckles generally
develop in childhood, adolescence or young adulthood, and they
may increase in number and distribution during that time.
hallmark characteristic of freckles is that they get darker
when exposed to the sunís ultraviolet (UV) light. Thatís
why they become more noticeable in the summertime and fade
throughout the winter months.
case, freckles may be confused with another type of skin spot
known as solar lentigines ó sometimes called age spots. The
difference is that solar lentigines are actually caused by
frequent and prolonged sun exposure over the course of many
years. Freckles, on the other hand, are typically a result of
genetics. Freckles often fade or disappear with age, while
solar lentigines become more common as people get older.
help keep freckles from getting darker, and reduce the
likelihood that more will appear, by taking steps to shield
your skin from sunlight, especially during the summer months.
broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF,
of 30 or higher whenever you are outdoors. Wear sunscreen ó
even if the sun is not shining, as UV light penetrates through
clouds and reflects off water, snow and other surfaces. Apply
sunscreen generously and frequently to all areas of exposed
skin, particularly after you have been swimming or sweating.
further shield your skin from the sunís damaging rays, wear
protective gear, such as a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses,
and limit your time outdoors when the sun is strongest during
the late morning and early afternoon. Never use a tanning bed.
freckles are harmless, it is important to keep an eye on skin
changes and be familiar with whatís normal for your skin.
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, so know
its signs and symptoms. If you notice anything out of the
ordinary, see a dermatologist.
particular, watch for new dark patches appearing on your skin
that have not been there before. Notice if a patch of skin
changes color; becomes darker in only one area; becomes
uneven, jagged or scalloped around the edges; grows larger; or
changes in height. If any of that happens, see a
dermatologist. If a darker area of skin bleeds, itches or
becomes tender, evaluate that promptly, too.