Freckles and age spots both involve brown skin spots, especially on the face. However, they are typically referred to, treated, and thought of differently. Age spots and freckles do have some similarities; however, they are two different types of hyperpigmentation that can be treated similarly.
What Makes the Skin Darken?
The skin darkens due to damage to the skin cells, especially the cells that produce melanin or pigment. Everyone has a regular pigment that his or her skin produces, whether fair or dark skin. When the skin cells' DNA becomes damaged, either due to the sun, trauma, or age, then melanin production can be damaged. This can lead to hyperpigmentation or dark spots.
What are Freckles?
Freckles typically are small and occur on those who have fair skin, especially red-headed people. They typically occur on children and fade as a person ages, although a person with hereditary freckles can have them for his or her whole life. Sun exposure typically causes them; therefore, the more time someone spends in the sun, the more freckles they will get. The freckles may also become darker after spending time in the sun without broad sunscreen protection. Freckles tend to be an inherited trait, especially as they go hand in hand with other hereditary traits, including red hair and fair skin. For those where it is inherited, the appearance of freckles is inevitable, however, consistent use of sunscreen can help to minimize just how many and how dark they will be.
What are Age Spots?
Age spots tend to be bigger than freckles and occur due to aging, as the name implies. They can also be slightly raised. Typically, age spots occur on the hands and face rather than the entire body - unless you've experienced a severe sunburn on your back or shoulders, then dark spots can appear in these areas as well. Although sun exposure plays a significant role in the development of age spots, they tend to occur due to the deterioration of the skin cells that is part of the natural aging process. The more time a person has spent in the sun, the more damage to their cells, which is why age spots are connected to sun damage. The years of sun damage can lead to more melanin production in a certain area, causing an age spot. This is why wearing sun protective clothing, as well as broad-spectrum sunscreen, is vitally important from an early age.
The Difference Between Freckles and Age Spots
The main difference between freckles and age spots is the age of the person and the size and location of the spots. Freckles are small, can appear anywhere, and are directly attributed to sun exposure in those susceptible; they are also inherited. Freckles can appear on anyone of any age, especially children. Age spots are not hereditary, can occur to anyone of any skin type, tend to develop on the hands and face, can also be larger in size, and begins to be noticed in middle age.
Treatment of Dark Spots and Freckles
Whether a dark spot due to sun damage or freckles from the same or genetics, there are only two ways to minimize their appearance. Prevention with the use of sunscreen year round and generously applied every two hours and using a dark spot treatment. Make sure the sunscreen you are using blocks both UVA and UVB rays and that the treatment for dark spots is one that is effective with skin lighteners such as Vitamin C and licorice root extract. Do you have a question about your scar or dark spot? Leave a comment, and we’ll be happy to answer.