- Skin Growths (Benign / Non-cancerous)
- How are skin growths commonly diagnosed and treated?
- Common types of benign (non-cancerous) skin growths
- What other types of benign skin growths can occur?
- Are freckles (Ephelides) considered a type of skin growth?
- When should I worry about a marking on my skin?
Are freckles (Ephelides) considered a type of skin growth?
- Characteristics: Freckles are characterised as tiny, flat, circular spots and not necessarily growths per se. Freckles develop as multiples on sun-exposed skin (usually the upper body areas such as the face – the nose and cheeks, as we as the shoulder and arms). Those with fair complexions most notably experience freckles, especially if they have blonde or red hair. For the most part, freckles are uniform in appearance and colour (yellowish, reddish, tan, light brown, darker brown or black). With additional sun-exposure, freckles can darken. They can also lighten during periods of the year that a person isn’t as exposed to the sun (such as during winter). These markings are very common, but not harmful at all.
- Cause: Freckles develop as a result of uneven distribution of dark pigment (a heavy deposit of melanin in one place or spot) in the skin combined with various other factors, such as a fair complexion, genetics and sun-exposure. Sun-exposure can also result in the forming of larger, darker freckles on the body. These can sometimes have more irregular or jagged borders.
- Diagnosis and treatment: As freckles are harmless skin markings, there is no real need to diagnose or treat them. They are usually not cancerous and do not generally become so in a person’s lifetime either. In this instance, preventative methods for aggravating more freckles is best implemented. Using a good sunscreen on areas of the skin that are normally exposed to the sun and taking care with how much time skin is exposed are advised for those who freckle easily. Avoiding artificial sun-tanning lights (ultraviolet light) is also advisable. This can thicken the outer layer of the skin and increase the rate of melanin production in pigment producing cells. Those who do freckle easily are more prone to sunburn, placing them at higher risk of developing skin cancer. Freckles can be lightened with bleaching or fading creams containing hydroquinone and kojic acid. Low concentrations are available over-the-counter, but higher concentrations may require a prescription. Laser treatment, chemical peels and photofacials (or intense pulsed light treatments) are all methods a skin specialist may be able to use to lighten the appearance of freckles. These treatments are most applied for cosmetic reasons.