Freckles, Moles, Sun Spots, Melanin, Skincare, Health, Cancer, Skin Cancer, Sunscreen, Uv Light

Freckles, Moles

What Are Your Freckles Trying to Tell You?

What Are Your Freckles Trying to Tell You?

5/23/2020 10:28:00 PM

What Are Your Freckles Trying to Tell You?

Dermatologists Dr. Annie Chiu and Dr. Carlos Charles explain how to tell the difference between normal freckles and cancerous moles.

This is key: Freckles themselves are not unhealthy, but they are a signal that your skin may be at risk. “People with freckles tend to have lighter skin, and those with lighter skin tend to be more prone to skin cancer because they have less natural protection from UV,” Chiu explains. Of course, using

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sunscreenis important for any skintone; the presence of freckles just ups the ante.No matter your genes, spots at risk for cancer could be mistaken for harmless freckles if you don’t look carefully. The average freckle is reddish brown and fades in the winter, when skin gets less sun exposure.

"Marks called sunspots, similar to freckles, are flat and pop up in areas where skin is most exposed, usually later in life,"Chiu says. And moles, the spots most susceptible to turning cancerous, tend to be darker and raised, and can show up anywhere on the body—even in areas you can’t see easily. If you’re unsure, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Chiu recommends an annual skin check of your entire body. “But as long as you protect yourself, do not fear the freckle,” Charles says.

Spot CheckWhile freckles and sunspots don’t generally become cancerous, moles can, and it can be hard to distinguish between them. Keep an eye on all your spots, and if you notice any of these five signs, see a dermatologist.AsymmetryWhen the halves of a spot don’t match up, it may be a sign of irregular cells.

BorderMalignant moles tend to have uneven, notched, or bumpy edges.ColorInconsistent color in the mole signals a possible issue.DiameterAnything bigger than 1/4 inch could be cancerous.EvolvingIt’s important to report any changes in size, shape, color, or elevation to a doctor.

This article first appears in the June 2019 issue of ELLE.Assistant Beauty EditorErin Reimel is the Assistant Beauty Editor covering beauty and wellness at ELLE.This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at

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