DeBlog: Why Do We Get Freckles When It’s Sunny?

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(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: Jupiter Images)

By Kate Raddatz, Good Question Intern

If you’re like me, you may have noticed a few new freckles on your face since the start of summer. All that fun in the sun can do some damage to our skin. Abby Adamski of Vadnais Heights wants to know, why does the sun cause freckles?

“It’s essentially the same process as a tan, but it happens in little spots,” said Dr. Jaime Davis of Uptown Dermatology and SkinSpa. “The skin tries to protect itself from UV light by producing melanin or tanning, but in fair skin this happens unevenly in little spots — freckles.”

Turns out, all freckles are actually caused by the sun.

“It is extremely rare to be actually born with freckles unless there is a true genetic problem, but (freckles) are in people with fair skin genetics,” she said.

While a normal freckle is essentially harmless, it is a sign of skin damage.

“It’s a sign of exposure to UV light, which is, by definition, damaging,” she said. “Freckles are our skin’s way of protecting itself from UV light if the skin can’t tan itself evenly.”

While it may be fashionable to get a tan on these days, tanning increases your chance of getting more freckles and also of getting freckles that are cancerous.

“Since UV light is the cause, freckling is going to worsen with exposure (to sunlight),” Davis said.

The reason you may find more freckles on your face than other parts of your body? Davis said again, blame the sun.

“They are more common in sun exposed areas naturally—face, shoulders and forearms,” she said.

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