Freckles and moles are common skin appearances most people have a love-hate relationship with. It is quite easy to confuse these two skin features. In this article, we break down the differences between moles and freckles along with how they are formed, and if there are any risks associated with them that you need to be aware of. Keep reading to know more!
In This Article
What Are Freckles?
Freckles are tiny reddish or pale brown spots on the skin. They usually appear when your skin is exposed to the sun for too long. They can occur on all skin types but are most visible on people with pale skin.
Freckles form as a result of the overproduction of melanin, which is responsible for the color of your skin and hair. Overall, freckles are a result of ultraviolet (UV) radiation stimulation. A French study showed that people who produce pheomelanin (usually redheads) tend to form freckles more than people who produce eumelanin (people with dark and brunette hair) (1).
Our skin produces melanin on exposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning lights. This then leads to the over-deposition of melanin in one spot, which causes freckles. Freckles occur mostly in people with blonde or red hair, fair skin, and light-colored eyes.
Now, let’s talk about moles.
What Are Moles?
A mole is a small part of the skin that is much darker in color, like brown or black. It is not affected by sun exposure, nor does it fade away. However, it can become raised, change color, and even grow hair over time. It may also recede and disappear over your life span. Moles are formed due to the following factors (2):
- The overactive melanocytes in the body produce excess melanin, which gives rise to moles.
- Excessive exposure to sunlight. The pigmentation of the skin cells propagates and spreads to the other areas of the body with over-exposure, leading to mole formation.
- The overactivity of the sebaceous or oil glands can also lead to the formation of moles. They are usually yellow and feel rough when touched.
- Some moles are present right from the time of birth, while others occur during puberty and pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
Some moles may also become cancerous. If your mole is growing or has changed color, you need to consult a doctor immediately. Also, if you suddenly sprout a mole in your adulthood, you may need to consult a doctor (2).
So, what is the difference between freckles and moles? Find out in the next section.
Freckles Vs. Moles: What’s The Difference?
|Reddish or brown in color.||Darker in color.|
|Light spots splattered on the skin.||Bumps raised above the skin.|
|Affected by sun exposure and environmental factors.||Not affected by the sun or the environment.|
|Not cancerous.||Some moles are cancerous.|
|Does not grow hair.||Can become darker and grow hair|
Freckles and moles are not the same. While they are both skin lesions, they are not caused by similar factors. Moles, like ephelides, are more common in light-skinned people. Freckles are more common in pale-skinned people. A mole is formed when excess pigment-producing cells with a higher supply of blood vessels exist in the skin.
Although most moles are black/brown dots or bumps, they may vary in appearance at times and appear pink or light brown.
Now, let’s answer the most important question.
Are Moles And Freckles Dangerous?
Freckles are not dangerous, but some moles might be. Some moles that suddenly become darker or appear in adulthood may be cancerous. There are a few signs that may help you figure out if a mole is a threat (2):
- If the mole is asymmetrical in shape.
- If the borders of the mole are irregular or blurred.
- If the color of the mole is not uniform, i.e., part of the mole may be brown on one side and pink on the other.
- If the mole is larger than a quarter of an inch.
- If the mole keeps changing in size, color, and shape.
Freckles are not dangerous. But, people who have freckles are more sensitive to sunlight and need to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.
Find out if you can remove freckles and moles in the next section.
Can Moles And Freckles Be Removed?
Laser treatment is an effective way to remove freckles. There are a few natural remedies and treatment options that can help reduce the appearance of freckles. There are also some creams that can reduce the appearance of freckles.
When it comes to moles, many sites suggest a do-it-yourself approach that can cause more harm than good. There are many home remedies like using apple cider vinegar to burn off moles or applying garlic to get rid of them. Some people also use castor oil to remove moles. There are also some mole removal creams available on the market that might cause thick scars.
Removing a mole with scissors or other sharp objects may lead to infections and scarring. Considering that some moles can be cancerous, these home remedies may not be the best option for you. Consult a doctor before trying any of these methods.
A doctor can remove a mole surgically either by removing the entire mole or shaving it off.
There’s nothing wrong with moles or freckles. In fact, they are marks of beauty that help distinguish you. However, if you see a new mole pop up or any of your moles changing in size or color, consult a dermatologist immediately as it can be skin cancer.
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