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There are two basic types of freckles: simple freckles and sunburn freckles. Simple freckles are usually tan, round, and small about the size of a common construction nail head. Sunburn freckles are often darker, have irregular jagged borders, and may be larger than a pencil eraser. Freckles are thought to develop as a result of a combination of genetic tendency (inheritance) and sun exposure. Two people receiving the same sun exposure may not have an equal chance of developing freckles.
Prevention-- Since we cannot change our own genetic component of freckling, our main prevention measures are aimed at sun avoidance and sun-protection, including
use of sunscreens with SPF (sun protection factor) 30,use of sun-protective clothing (shirts, long sleeves, long pants), avoidance of the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and seeking shade and staying indoors. Ideally, freckle prevention is more effective than later trying to remove freckles that have already developed. Freckle-reduction treatments are more difficult and not always satisfactory.
- Bleaching or fading creams: Products containing hydroquinone and kojic acid can be purchased with and without a prescription
- Retinoids: Sometimes used in conjunction with other bleaching creams, tretinoin (vitamin A acid, Retin-A )also may help lighten freckles when applied consistently over a period of several months.
- Cryosurgery: A light freeze with liquid nitrogen in the physician's office can be used to treat some types of freckles. Not all spots respond to freezing or burning.
- Laser treatment: Multiple types of lasers may help lighten and decrease the appearance of freckles safely and effectively. Like cryosurgery, this is a simple and safe procedure with a high success rate and a low risk of scarring or skin discoloration.
- Photofacials or Intense Pulsed Light treatments are another method to lighten and remove freckles. This is not a true laser technique but an intense light source.
- Chemical peels can also help lighten freckles and improve irregular pigmentation.
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