While most of the pigmented spots on your skin may all seem the same, there are a few key differences. Some can be small like freckles while others tend to be larger and more noticeable like age spots or sunspots. Both commonly show up on sun-exposed areas, such as the face and shoulders, but differ in their own causes and appearance. 

What’s the Difference Between Freckles and Sunspots

Do you wonder what those dark spots are, where they come from, and what you can do to reduce their appearance? Continue reading as we explore the differences between freckles and sunspots, as well as a safe and effective treatment that can fade or lighten those pigmented spots and prevent their recurrence. 

What are freckles?

Freckles are small, pigmented spots that can vary depending on the person’s skin tone. They can be light or dark brown, black, red, or any other color that is darker than the individual’s natural complexion. Freckles typically appear as a group and are first noticed in kids, particularly those with fair skin and red hair.

Genes play a big part in your likelihood of getting them; variants of the MC1R gene are identified as the gene responsible for freckles (and red hair). It also means that if your parents have freckles, you are likely to have them. And while they are hereditary, sun exposure can activate freckles. 

If you have the MC1R gene, you need to spend time in the sun to develop freckles. They also tend to be noticeable or darker in summer when you are getting more sun exposure. Freckles, furthermore, tend to fade in the winter months and as people get older. 

Just like most types of spots, freckles develop due to an increase in skin pigment or melanin. Spending more time in the sun leads to more melanin, which is why people notice more freckles in their skin after being outside on a sunny day. They typically start to develop during childhood and sometimes disappear during adulthood. 

What are sunspots?

Typically much larger than freckles, sunspots are darkened patches caused by sun damage. They also have other names such as age spots and liver spots, mainly because they are thought to be a sign of liver problems. Sunspots can be tan or different shades of brown and are commonly associated with sun exposure and age.

As previously mentioned, they appear in areas commonly exposed to the sun such as the face, shoulders, arms, and backs of the hands. But unlike freckles, sunspots have no genetic link and don’t fade during winter. People of all skin types and colors can get them. They start to show up around the age of 40 but are common in people over 50.

Sunspots come from sun exposure that can cause damage to the skin cells. The body responds to this damage with an overproduction of melanin, which can result in a sunspot. And with more time spent in the sun, these spots can get bigger, darker, and more prominent. 

What can help fade or lighten freckles, sunspots, and other pigmentation?

Freckles are not harmless and don’t pose any health risks, so they don’t need to be treated. The same is also true for most sunspots. Typically, the main reason for fading or removing them is cosmetic. These spots can make people feel self-conscious, especially if there are lots of them or if they are noticeable. 

Here at Cutis, we have a treatment that can effectively remove hyperpigmentation, as well as prevent them from reappearing. Dermamelan® is a medical-grade depigmenting treatment that features a double corrective and regulatory action. It can lighten pigmentation and regulate melanin overproduction to prevent the reformation of spots.

Dermamelan can treat:

  • Freckles
  • Sunspots or solar lentigines 
  • Melasma
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
  • Blotchy skin

What Dermamelan does is target the buildup of pigment in the skin. It weakens/paralyzes the production of melanin without damaging the pigment-producing cells, also known as melanocytes. This means there is no risk of blemishes or white spots appearing. Dermamelan reduces and eliminates spots or blemishes of melanic origin. 

How it works: The treatment is a two-step process. The first one is done at the clinic, while the second phase is done or continued at home. 

  • In-clinic phase – It begins with the application of two masks with an intensive depigmentation action. You need to go home with the mask/peel on your face, which is left for 8 to 12 hours before washing it off at home. 
  • At-home phase – You’ll be given after-care guidelines to continue the treatment at home. This involves removing the mask and using the complimentary products provided for four months to regulate the overproduction of melanin. 

With Dermamelan, you can see changes within a week from applying the mask in the in-clinic phase. These include improvement in both skin tone and texture and reduction in the color of the spots. Just be sure to continue the treatment at home for four months to keep the overproduction of melanin under control. 

Reducing your risk of getting dark spots

It is not possible to prevent or avoid all causes of dark spots, but there are things you can do to minimize your risk of having them. These include:

  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher regardless of the weather.
  • Limit or avoid sun exposure, particularly during peak hours (between 10 am and 4 pm).
  • Use an umbrella or seek shade when you need to go out. 
  • Accessorize. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, as well as wraparound glasses with UV protection.
  • Use products with vitamin C (like vitamin C serum).
  • Do not pick or pop your pimples and other blemishes.

Schedule a consultation today

Dermamelan at Cutis is a depigmenting treatment that can fade hyperpigmentation and help prevent its recurrence. We also have other procedures that can lighten darkened patches, including laser skin rejuvenation, skin resurfacing, IPL treatment, and chemical peels

Contact Cutis Medical Laser Clinics in Singapore today and schedule a consultation with our aesthetic doctor to learn more about our treatments and find out which one is right for you.