What are freckles?
A freckle is a heavy deposit of melanin in one particular spot on the skin. The cells that produce the melanin (melanocytes) are triggered by sunlight. Though you can't stop freckles entirely, staying out of the sunlight will help prevent them. Always wear a good sunscreen, even if it's overcast outside. The sun's UV rays can be damaging even on a cloudy day. Wear a wide brimmed hat whenever possible in order to avoid direct sunlight.
If you have freckles are want to get rid of them, you can reduce their appearance with several types of treatments.
Over-the-counter bleaching creams
Topical bleaching creams normally contain a bleaching agent called hydroquinone. These creams can be effective, but sometimes take months for desired results. You can also get prescription bleaching creams from a dermatologist that contain Retin-A or other ingredients. Side effects may include lightening of the skin around the freckle, drying and peeling.
A doctor can administer a chemical peel to reduce freckles and other skin imperfections. Superficial peels can be done quickly and don't require any downtime. However, you will probably need a series of peels before you notice any substantial improvement. Deep skin peels are more effective, however your skin becomes very unsightly right afterward. Therefore, you may experience a significant time away from work. Deep skin peels are very harsh. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and the risks.
Laser resurfacing is another in-office treatment that has proven effective in treating freckles. You will normally see results in one treatment, as the laser removes the epidermis. Recovery time is usually about a week. Laser treatment is quite expensive - over $1,000 per treatment.
Intense pulsed light therapy
One of the newer skin treatments, intense pulsed light therapy (IPL), uses pulses of broadband light sent through a prism to rejuvenate skin, improve texture and reduce freckles, age spots and other skin problems. The layers of the skin are not broken, therefore recovery time is minimal. Several sessions spaced three to four weeks apart are normally needed for full effects. However, the benefits can last a year or longer.
Embrace your freckles
Instead of trying to get rid of your freckles, you can embrace them. Protect your skin with sunscreen to help prevent skin cancer, but learn to love the freckles you have. Freckles are cute and part of you being you!