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Diseases of Pigment

Picture of Freckles

Picture of Freckles

Freckles are brownish colored spots on the skin that are a few millimeters in diameter. Hereditary factors and sun exposure contribute to the propensity of an individual to develop freckles. A gene on chromosome 4q32-q34 has been linked to an increased risk of freckles. Anyone can get freckles, but those who have fair skin, blue or green eyes, and blonde or red hair are especially susceptible. The official medical name for freckles is ephelides. Freckles may become more pronounced during the summer with excess sun exposure and often fade in the winter. People who have an abundance of freckles are at increased risk for skin cancer. Freckles may sometimes resemble skin cancer or other serious skin conditions. A dermatologist can distinguish regular, benign freckles from skin cancers or other dangerous skin conditions.

Image Source: Dimitri Vervitsiotis / Getty Images

Text References: The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, vol. 122, 2004: "A Gene for Freckles Maps to Chromosome 4q32-q34"

Illustrated Textbook of Dermatology, 4th edition: "Hereditary Disorders"