Sunday, May 28

I have freckles: necessary care to prevent them from leading to skin problems

Many people, but especially those with fair skin, have freckles somewhere on their bodies. Especially in sun-exposed areas such as the face, cheeks, nose and arms because freckles, which is the common name given to ephelides, intensify with sun exposure.

There are people who have a lot and others, a few. There are those who barely have or lack them, but have moles somewhere on the body, hereditary or not. The difference between a mole and a freckle is the greater relief and concentration of melanin in the second, but in essence it is also a freckle.

The effect that occurs in the formation of a freckle is usually the same as that of tanning. Thus, according to the Healthy Skin Foundationwhen the sun comes into contact with the skin, melanin is distributed unevenly, which favors the formation of slightly darker deposits.

Therefore, freckles develop mainly due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, but there may also be genetic causes that define this special distribution that each person presents.

Are freckles dangerous?

“Freckles are proliferations of some type of cell called melanosis and, like any other tissue, can live a ‘quiet’ life or degenerate and cause cancer,” admits the doctor. Ramon GrimaltProfessor of Dermatology at the International University of Catalonia (UIC).

Freckles, although most of the time they do not pose a risk, on other occasions they can be a sign of a more serious condition; some type of skin cancer, such as melanoma, which celebrates its World Day every May 23.

Melanoma “is called malignant because it is a tumor with a great tendency to metastasize: melanoma quickly passes into the blood, spreads throughout the body and for this reason it is one of the tumors with the worst prognosis,” warns Grimalt. .

What is the risk of my freckle turning into cancer?

The important thing is to know what risk there is of a freckle or mole becoming skin cancer. An article published in the Journal of the Hematology and Oncology Clinics of North America points out thatEven though common moles are not cancerous, people with more than 50 freckles or common moles have a higher risk of melanoma. Consequently, people called freckled are the most at risk of conversion.

But they are not the only ones, since people who present birthmarks (congenital) and which are called “congenital melanocytic nevi”, also present a certain risk of conversion into what is known as “dysplastic nevus”.

According to the national cancer institute of the United States (NCI), “a dysplastic nevus is a type of mole that differs in appearance from a common mole (some doctors use the term ‘atypical mole’ when referring to a dysplastic nevus).”

The institute explains on its page that “a dysplastic nevus can be larger than a common mole and its color, surface, and borders can be different” and “in general, it is more than 5 millimeters wide, it can present a mixture of several colors , pink to dark brown, and is usually flat with a smooth, slightly scaly or gritty surface, with a jagged edge that may fade into the surrounding skin.”

A dysplastic nevus is not cancer, but it does increase the risk of becoming one. Research such as that published in the medical journal American Journal of Clinical Dermatology calculate that someone with more than five dysplastic nevi is nearly 10 times more likely to develop melanoma than someone with none, and the more dysplastic nevi a person has, the greater the chance of developing melanoma.

He NCI recommends See a dermatologist without delay if you notice any of the following symptoms on a freckle or mole:

  • Color changes.
  • The mole becomes smaller or larger without uniformity (unlike normal moles in children, which become uniformly large).
  • The mole changes in its shape, texture, or height.
  • The skin on the surface becomes dry or scaly.
  • The mole becomes hard or feels lumpy.
  • It starts to itch.
  • bleeds or exudes

Freckles and moles: warning signs that we should not ignore

Therefore, people at risk should try to have a visual check on their freckles and moles, periodically and with the advice of a dermatologist. To do this, they must know the main signs that a freckle may be becoming a serious problem. The key is, according to the dermatologist, to pay attention above all to the type of skin we have.

“Those people with phototype I and II skin, green or blue eyes, blondes, redheads, fair skin and lots of freckles have to watch out when they notice a new freckle or one that changes in shape, color or size” and they have to consult a dermatologist quickly because it could be “the beginning of a melanoma that, if removed in time, will heal.”

On the other hand, a person who has phototype III, black hair, dark eyes, few freckles, no family history, who never burns on the beach and who tans without turning red, “has a lower risk of a freckle ends up becoming a melanoma”, admits Grimalt.

It can also happen, in elderly people, that spots similar to freckles appear but, in reality, they are not. These are seborrheic warts of aging that, “although they are very scary, are not of any importance,” reassures the expert.

Tools like the A, B, C, D, E rulewhich exemplifies in the following way the signs that we must pay attention to and watch out for in a freckle:

  • A (asymmetry): refers to the shape of the freckle or mole. Normal moles are usually uniform in shape and the two halves are similar. We must pay attention to whether the shape is irregular or if one half of the mole is different from the other half.
  • B (borders of mole): A melanoma is more likely to have irregular or ill-defined borders. A normal mole usually has a smooth, regular border.
  • C (freckle color): melanomas are often uneven in color and contain more than one shade; they can even have different shades of black, brown and pink. Normal moles are usually one uniform color.
  • D (diameter): refers to the width. Most melanomas are larger than 6 millimeters across, while normal moles are often the size of a pencil lead, or even smaller.
  • E (changing course): Melanomas can change in size, shape, or color.

For Grimalt, this could be simplified by saying that “any sudden change in a freckle, especially in a person at risk, should be consulted with a specialist” as soon as possible because the cure rate when these spots are detected early is higher. .

The preventive route, the most effective to avoid risks

The key to managing melanoma lies in prevention and early detection since, as Grimalt admits, treatment is still far from being effective. The only preventive way is to avoid the sun, especially taking into account that freckles appear in the most photo-exposed areas (hands, neckline or back), as does the risk of melanoma.

This means sticking with a sun protection plan that includes not only the use of adequate sunscreen but also other physical systems, such as long-sleeved clothing —which has been shown to be 10 times more effective than sunscreens, Grimalt points out—, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, seek shade, and follow a diet rich in antioxidants based on healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins.

It should also be taken into account that the sun is cumulative; It is important that protection is applied not only in summer but every day of the year throughout the year.

“Throughout life there are many hours of accumulated radiation, which is what ends up damaging us with white spots and so on,” warns Grimalt. It is important to always protect the skin because it is a lifetime investment.

If you don’t want to miss any of our articles, subscribe to our newsletters

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *