Category: 

What Are the Common Causes of Black Freckles?

Some black freckles can be caused by tanning.
Freckles that change in appearance should be checked by a doctor.
Freckles usually become darker after more sun exposure, and lighten with less exposure.
Article Details
  • Written By: Marlene de Wilde
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Over 33% of the 800 plant species on the island of Socotra off the coast of Yemen are not found anywhere else on Earth.  more...

September 19 ,  1957 :  The US conducted the world's first underground nuclear explosion in Nevada.  more...

Black freckles are caused by repeated exposure to sunlight just as any other colored freckle. Freckles may be black, brown, reddish or yellow depending on the color of the surrounding skin. Freckles usually become darker after more sun exposure and lighten with less exposure as in during the winter.

Freckles are small spots of melanin on the skins of people with fairer complexions and blonde or red hair. People with fair skin do not usually produce enough melanin so the skin does not color evenly when exposed to sunlight. When the sun penetrates the skin, melanocytes are activated and, because of the dominant melanocortin-1 receptor MC1R gene variant, freckles are formed. The tendency to freckle is genetic and often runs in families.

There are two types of freckles: ephelides, or simple freckles and lentigines, or sunburn freckles. Black freckles may be simple freckles, which are usually tan or light brown, after a summer of sun exposure in which the melanin darkens just as skin does when tanning. This type of freckle will usually fade to a lighter color during the cooler months or if sun exposure is avoided. Ephelides are small, round and uniform.

Ad

Lentigines tend to be larger and darker with irregular borders and may appear as black freckles. They are more common on the shoulders and upper back as these areas of the body are more prone to severe sunburn. They do not tend to fade but, as long as they do not change, are just as harmless as the ephelides. Black freckles may also develop in adults as liver or age spots which are also harmless.

People who freckle have skin that is highly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer. While freckles themselves are harmless, any change in their appearance should be checked. Skin cancer commonly manifests itself in a change in the appearance of the skin such as an irregularity in a mole or freckle, a new growth or a sore that does not heal. Any suspicious moles or freckles should be checked by a doctor.

The only way for genetically predisposed people to avoid freckles is to completely avoid sun exposure. Wearing a high factor sunscreen will help in the suppression of the production of freckles, but not completely. Anyone who will have sun exposure should use high factor sunscreen in order to protect the skin from skin cancer. For those with freckles who wish to reduce their appearance, there are safe methods to lighten them.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

healthy4life
Post 4

@shell4life – That happened to me, too. My freckles were on my arms, legs, shoulders, and nose.

I have more freckles than most of my friends. I'm kind of upset that I can't get an even tan.

The freckles, even the black ones, fade during the winter. I rarely go outside after October, since I work all day and I hate the cold weather, so this gives my freckles time to disappear. At least I get to start out the next spring without black freckles, even if I do end up with them later on in summer!

orangey03
Post 3

I had a black freckle removed from my face because of its irregular borders. My doctor recommended this, so just because black freckles are common doesn't mean you should ignore the ones with weird borders that might point to cancer.

shell4life
Post 2

I had been wondering if black freckles were any different from brown ones. I'm glad I came across this article.

I had actually been worrying about the fact that several of my freckles, especially those on my arms, have turned black after a summer at the beach. It's good to know that this is just from being out in the sun more.

JackWhack
Post 1

I have fair skin, and no matter what SPF I use, I always get a little pink. I have one of those black shoulder freckles that has popped up in just the past four years.

I blame it on the swimming pool that I had installed six years ago. Since then, I have gotten more freckles and wrinkles, despite always using sunscreen.

I suppose that any sun exposure will cause this, even if you are protecting yourself with sunscreen. I love the sun and the water too much to give it up, though.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email