Here's the main difference between freckles and moles

  • 10 September 2021 12:51:27
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Freckles and moles are both darker colored dots on your skin. You might even use the words interchangeably, according to Walk-In Dermatology. Perhaps you have lots of freckles or plenty of moles, or maybe you don't have any or very few. No matter how many moles and freckles you may have, you might not know the differences between them or how to tell which one is which.

You might often think of freckles as cute little marks sprinkled evenly across your cheeks and nose, but they can be distributed anywhere on your body that the sun hits, according to WebMD, depending on if they are ephelides and solar lentigines — the two types of freckles. As for moles, they can form anywhere on your body, and although they share some similarities in how they look sometimes, they're entirely different phenomena on your skin, with unique characteristics. Read on to find out more about what makes freckles and moles different.

Here's the main difference between freckles and moles

According to Walk-In Dermatology, the main difference between the two types of skin marks is that moles are raised spots that occur singly or in clusters, and freckles are flat clusters of skin spots. WebMD relates that moles, which are clumped skin cells, can occur anywhere, including your scalp, under your fingernails or toenails, and even between your toes. Often moles appear as black or brown spots, and freckles are usually lighter. Occasionally, you're born with a mole, and sometimes you acquire them after birth. They can come and go over time, depending on the type of growth. While moles are typically raised or flat, if you have an atypical mole, it may have components that are both raised and flat. If you have an atypical mole, it can be cause for concern if it's itchy or irritating, which means you should get it checked out by your dermatologist.

While freckles rarely turn into skin cancer, moles, especially those with jagged or blurred edges, cause problems more frequently (via Walk-In Dermatology). If you want to reduce the appearance of freckles, you can achieve some lightening by reducing your sun exposure and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with 50+ SPF. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to talk to your doctor.

How Freckles Are A Natural Sunscreen

While people can't simply attribute their freckles on red hair (especially since many people other than redheads freckle), they can trace them back to their parents. According to Insider, freckles appear as the result of genetics and sun exposure. Simply put, the darker your skin is, the more melanocyte cells you will have to protect your skin against the sun (though even those with the darkest skin still need to slather on sunscreen). As you might have guessed, these melanocyte cells are responsible for producing "dark pigment melanin," per Insider. 

Generally, those with lighter skin are more prone to getting freckles because those melanocyte cells, instead of being dispersed equally across the body as they would be in those with darker skin, are scattered throughout the body in clusters. Once these clusters of melanocyte cells are exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays, they produce larger amounts of melanin that appear as freckles, or brown spots, on the skin.

A large amount of freckles indicates that your skin is more sensitive to the sun's rays and that you're at a higher risk of contracting skin cancer, according to Marie Claire. As it turns out, though, these brown spots can actually protect your skin from further damage from the sun.