A scattering of freckles is the visual representation of the term “sun-kissed.” Have you ever wondered why infants don’t have freckles, even though the brown dots appear very charming on tiny kids? Explore the reasons behind this fascinating phenomenon.
Continue reading to find out what causes these little dots, as well as when and why certain youngsters grow freckles on their faces, arms, and shoulders.
What Causes Freckles?
According to a doctor and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan Debra M. Langlois, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, melanin is a pigment that plays a role in determining the color of your skin. People with darker skin have a naturally higher melanin content than those with lighter skin, but the bodies of people of all skin tones manufacture additional melanin when they are exposed to UV radiation.
According to Dr. Langlois’s explanation, the production of more melanin is your body’s natural defense against the harmful effects of sun exposure. Because darker skin produces more melanin, which results in tanning, those with lighter skin are more prone to get freckles or sunburns than those with darker complexions.
This helps to explain why freckles tend to appear on regions of the body that are consistently exposed to light, such as the upper cheekbones, nose, and shoulders. A person’s freckles are their skin’s way of protecting itself from the damaging effects of the sun.
Why Do Young Children Not Have Freckles?
Although everyone has the potential to get freckles, those with pale skin are more likely to have them already. Despite this, getting freckles is a direct consequence of spending time in the sun.
Lacey L. Kruse, M.D., FAAD, an attending physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and an assistant professor of pediatrics and dermatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, says that sun exposure is the only cause of freckles. “Nobody would develop freckles if it weren’t for the sun,” she says. Freckles can only form after prolonged exposure to the sun, which infants do not experience for long enough throughout their first few years of life.
Freckles can start to appear between the ages of two and four, according to Stanford Medicine Children’s Health; however, the exact timing of their appearance might vary from person to person. The amount of sun exposure that your youngster receives is also a primary factor in the development of freckles. Dr. Kruse states, “sometimes freckles will even go gone if the parent is better at sun protection.”
It’s common knowledge that freckles are brown, but they can also be red, black, yellow, or tan. During the winter, the specks frequently disappear.
Should I Be Concerned About My Freckles?
According to a Nature Communications study, people with the MC1R gene, which is linked to red hair, freckling, and sun sensitivity, are more likely to acquire melanoma. In addition, these genes may increase the risk of skin cancer in certain people to the extent that it is comparable to having spent 21 years in the sun!
The genes that create freckles may indicate that your child has specific predisposing risk factors, despite the fact that freckles, in and of themselves, are not dangerous. Therefore, it is a good idea to shield your child from the sun by taking certain preventative measures.
Avoid getting your skin too much sun.
According to Dr. Langlois, “individuals with fairer skin have a higher chance of melanoma and skin damage; nonetheless, it can actually happen to anyone.” She suggests that you:
- Limiting sun exposure during peak hours (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
- Applying a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on a consistent basis.
- Protecting children from the sun by dressing them in clothes that blocks UV rays.
Additionally, it is important for parents to know the distinction between freckles and moles. According to Dr. Kruse, freckles are less noticeable and frequently disappear throughout the winter, whereas moles continue to have the same appearance over time.
Keep an eye out for moles and freckles.
Even though childhood cancer of the skin is uncommon, you should keep a close watch on your child’s moles and freckles for warning indications of the disease, such as the following:
- Uneven boundary.
- Multiple colors.
- Diameter larger than 1⁄4.
- Changing either its form or its, size, or color.
Dr. Langlois warns that solar lentigines, innocuous black patches on sun-exposed adults, are not freckles.
The Heart of the Matter
In most cases, freckles are quite safe anywhere on the body. Freckles, on the other hand, are an indication of a higher susceptibility to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation; as a result, the parents of freckled children need to take extra precautions to shield their children from the sun. This, in addition to keeping an eye out for any changes in your child’s freckles, will reduce the likelihood of your child acquiring skin cancer.