What are Freckles on the Skin?

Editorial Team
Written by: Editorial TeamUpdated at: Apr 27, 2013 14:58 IST
What are Freckles on the Skin?

Freckles on the Skin

Freckles are small, flat, brown spots found on the skin. They may vary in colour from red to brown. They are extremely common and completely harmless. They are very common among light-skinned people due to lower presence of melanin which is a chemical produced by the skin cells which protects the skin from sun damage. Freckles develop because of irregular distribution of melanin in the skin. Excessive production of melanin at one place will result in freckles.


Freckles occur as a result of exposure to the sun and are commonly found in areas exposed to sun rays. Freckles are mostly found on the face, shoulders and arms.


Freckles develop randomly either as an individual spot or in clusters making them largely visible on the skin.


  • Genetics: Genetic tendency towards formation of freckles can cause this condition. If someone in your family had freckles, your chances also increase.
  • Sun exposure: Exposure to the sun causes the skin to produce melanin as a mean of protection from harmful sun rays. The buildup of melanin at particular spots or the uneven distribution of melanin results in freckles.

Risk factors


Fair complexioned people are more prone to development of freckles as this type of skin has lesser presences of melanin and burns easily.


Freckles in most cases are harmless and treatment is not required other than for cosmetic reasons.

  • Bleaching creams can be used to lighten up freckles to a uniform tone resembling skin tone however it can make the affected skin stand out and might cause rashes.
  • Cryotherapy or freezing with liquid nitrogen.
  • Chemical peels.
  • Laser treatment or Intense Pulsed Light Therapy can remove pigmentation but results may vary and multiple sittings might be required.


Since lighter-skinned people freckle easily and continuous skin damage by the sun rays can increase your chances of getting skin cancer hence preventive steps needs to be taken. Freckles are a sign of skin which is vulnerable to sun burn which may lead to skin cancer.

  • Use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 and follow label instructions regarding reapplication. Avoid long exposure in the sun.