Difference between freckles and moles

There are many difference between freckles and moles, birthmarks or moles but what is the difference between them, and in which cases can certain skin spots be dangerous?

Especially in summer, freckles sprout on the forehead, nose or cheeks, especially of fair-skinned, blonde, or red-haired people. First things first: The small dots are completely harmless and do not pose any risk of skin cancer. The difference between freckles and moles is caused by a congenital genetic defect that causes cells that contain melanin to appear more frequently in certain areas. In summer they collect more UV light, become more colored than other cells, and become visible as freckles. Just like freckles, age spots are pigment disorders of the skin. They can make themselves visible on the skin at a young age, but they are more common in people over 40. How do pigment spots arise? Due to years of UV exposure.

Difference between Freckles and Moles
Difference between Freckles and Moles

Another difference between freckles and moles is that the skin stores melanin irregularly, and certain cells can no longer stain. Even if age spots are “only” photodamage, you should keep an eye on them. Because over time, they too can develop into malignant tumors. Moles, on the other hand, occur regardless of skin type and are not genetic. These are benign growths that we usually acquire in the course of life through hormone fluctuations or UV radiation. Five percent of the brown-colored spots are congenital moles. But no matter whether it’s a birthmark or a mole: the difference between freckles and moles have both of them checked regularly by the dermatologist, because even benign moles and moles can, in the worst case, develop into skin cancer.

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Freckles

Most often, freckles are found in fair-skinned, blonde, or red-haired people. They are caused by an innate genetic defect, which means that cells that contain melanin appear more frequently in certain areas. Melanin is the dye that colors our skin, hair and eyes. If these cells catch the sun more intensely, they become more colored than other cells and become visible as freckles. Due to this difference between freckles and moles, this is why the freckles also multiply in summer. The genetic defect does not have to show itself from the start; it can rest for a long time until freckles suddenly appear.

Good to know: Freckles are completely harmless and do not pose any risk of skin cancer. Freckles are mostly seen in fair-skinned, blonde, and red-haired people, they are caused by predisposition. In summer, freckles appear more prominent, in the months with the little sun they fade again. Incidentally, their number decreases with age. Good to know: Freckles are completely harmless and do not pose any risk of skin cancer.

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Birthmark and mole

In contrast to freckles, birthmarks and moles occur independently of the respective skin type and are not genetically determined. These are small or large tumors or benign growths. A person usually acquires moles in the course of their lives through UV radiation or hormone fluctuations. Birthmarks, on the other hand, are congenital, but only about five percent of brown-colored skin spots are congenital and thus birthmarks. Both should be checked regularly as they constitute a third of all skin cancers. Moles are usually hereditary – they change in the course of life, depending on how often the skin is exposed to the sun. Birthmarks, on the other hand, are already present at birth or appear in the first few weeks of life. They should be checked regularly as they are responsible for a third of all skin cancers. The appearance of moles and birthmarks varies in color and structure.

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Age spots

Like freckles, age spots are pigment disorders of the skin. They occur more and more in people over 40, but can also show on the skin at a young age. These stains are caused by years of UV exposure. Over time, this can mean that the skin irregularly stores melanin and certain areas can no longer be colored. However, age spots are not completely harmless, even if they are photo-damaged. Over time, they too can develop into malignant tumors and should therefore always be monitored. These pigment spots are predominantly regularly shaped and colored. With increasing age, they mainly appear on the back of the hand, face and décolleté. Now you can see on the skin who has sunbathed excessively over the years. Age spots are harmless at first but can develop into malignant tumors over time.

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Do pigment spots need treatment?

Harmless pigment spots are a charming sign of individuality. (Or what would top model Cindy Crawford be without her birthmark?) If skin marks are seriously annoying or pose a risk of skin cancer, the doctor removes them surgically or with a laser. After the procedure, the skin is particularly sensitive in this area for several weeks. Then she needs intensive protection from the sun to recover.

Sometimes a drug or a perfume can also trigger pigment spots: Certain drugs such as hormone preparations, broad-spectrum antibiotics or chemotherapy drugs, as well as some scented oils, make the skin more sensitive to light. In these cases, the pigment spots usually disappear again as soon as the drug or the fragrance is no longer used.

With the help of special creams or peelings, you can remove or weaken some pigment spots by bleaching. However, many bleaching agents have side effects, irritate the skin, make it more sensitive to sunlight, and often leave a blotchy complexion. In addition, bleaching is irreversible. Talk to your dermatologist about measures that are appropriate for you.

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Tips for healthy skin

  • Avoid sunburn – at any age. Because it promotes the formation of pigment marks and significantly increases the risk of skin cancer. Conscious sun protection on vacation and at home is therefore just as important for adults as it is for children.
  • You can prevent pigment spots in old age by taking small amounts of sunbathing and avoiding the intense midday sun.
  • Especially if you are taking medications that make the skin sensitive, you should reduce direct sunlight as much as possible.
  • Avoid sunbathing in the solarium, as it additionally increases the UV radiation exposure of the skin.
  • Use peelings as rarely as possible – they make the skin structure thinner and therefore more sensitive.

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