Freckle! Freckle! What Is A Freckle?

by Sherry Riter in Beauty,Health

I know all about freckles! I have them mostly on my arms now, but I used to have them splattered across my nose just like Alyssa.

Although Alyssa’s allergies have made her sick and caused some dark circles under her eyes, she was still willing to let me take a picture of the cute freckles on her nose. Actually, when she saw me struggling to take a picture of my arm, that’s when Alyssa offered her own freckles for the photo shoot. Thank you Alyssa!


What Is A Freckle?

I guess we better start at the beginning.

This is how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a freckle:

Freckle (an adjective): any of the small brownish spots in the skin due to augmented melanin production that increase in number and intensity on exposure to sunlight

That sounds a bit complicated for such tiny little spots!

Melanin is the pigment in our skin (the stuff that makes you tan a brownish color) which protects your skin from ultraviolet light exposure. However, my skin doesn’t have a whole lot of melanin and I’ve never have a brownish tan of any hue. All of my melanin joins together to make little, flat, light-brown dots which are called freckles or ephelides.

I bet you didn’t know that word.

Ephelis is the Greek word for one freckle and ephelides are lots of freckles. Ephelides is pronounced so that it sounds like eh-feel-A-deez and ephelis sounds like eh-feel-iss.

Anyway, my ephelides have faded and remain faded because I do not get a whole lot of exposure to the sun. No, I am not a vampire even though I stay out of the sun on purpose. People with light complexions are very prone to get sunburned and to have freckles. I don’t really want a sunburn and I don’t want more freckles! Scientifically, the same thing that determines red hair is closely related to the thing that determines skin color which is why most redheads have freckles.

Fascinatingly Fun Freckle Facts

Now I’m going to share some facts about freckles that will make you wonder how you ever got this far into life without knowing this stuff!

Does tanning affect freckles?

    Yes! Tanning will make freckles get darker and have babies! The ultraviolet waves found in the sun’s rays or tanning beds will definitely make freckles more prominent.

Can freckles become cancerous?

    Nope! Freckles cannot be cancerous. Just make sure that you go to the dermatologist if you are not sure that the brown spot on your arm is really a freckle.

Can you get rid of freckles?

    You can’t get rid of freckles as fast as I can eat a candy bar, but you can get rid of them. Freckles sit on top of the skin, so it is really easy to use lasers to remove the brown color.

Can you prevent freckles?

    Yes and no. Freckles are genetic, so if you are coded to have freckles, unless you live in a cave without any sunlight at all for your entire life, you will more than likely have a few pop out. However, if you use a strong sunscreen and stay out of the sun as much as possible, you can prevent most of the freckles from forming. I use sunblock that is SPF100. I know! I know! It is just ridiculous! Oh my goodness! You are laughing at me! Don’t you know I can hear you? What are you doing now? Don’t hold you brown arm up so that I can see it!! Put your arm down right now!

What makes freckles turn darker?

    Freckle formations are triggered by exposure to sunlight. Specifically, the UV-B radiation activates the melanocytes to increase melanin production and that makes the freckles get darker. By the way, melanoncytes are cells that are located in the bottom layer of the skin’s epidermis and they are what produces melanin in the body.

Do freckles hurt?

    I’m being serious. 🙂 You better not be laughing. 😉

When Alyssa was a little girl, we were sitting on the front porch together watching the sun steadily drop towards the horizon. Her tanned little arm was laying on top of my not-tanned-at-all and freckle-covered arm.

“Mommy?” Alyssa asked.

“What Alyssa?”

“Do your freckles hurt?” she asked in all seriousness.

Staring at the top of her white blond head and trying hard to suppress my laughter, I answered, “No, I don’t feel them at all.”

“What if I mash them like this?” she asked as she pressed my freckles with her tiny index finger.

“Nope. I still don’t feel them.”

“Do you like being spotted?” Alyssa continued.

“Not particularly,” I answered. “I would love to be tanned like you, Daddy and Aunt Audrey.”

Alyssa lifted her head up and looked into my eyes as she said, “I don’t want you to be brown. I like your dots.” Then she pressed her tiny little lips on my arm and kissed my freckles.

Yeah. My child melted my heart.

The Redhead Riter's Freckles

The back of my hand magnified a billion times. Exaggerate? Me? Nev-er!


The Redhead Riter


This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Skip_D April 18, 2012 at 12:13 am

I like your dots too! 😀 there’s one thing you left out of your Fascinatingly Fun Freckle Facts: freckles can be very sexy! And in case you weren’t aware of it – freckles are “IN”!!! 🙂

…no – I’m *not* laughing! LOL


2 The Redhead Riter April 18, 2012 at 12:17 am

Freckles are in? LOL Okay Skip, if you say so!


3 mom April 18, 2012 at 12:46 am

Ahhh, our Alyssa. I never heard that story Sher, it was beautiful. I would not give up one of your freckles, never. Mother loves you.


4 The Redhead Riter April 18, 2012 at 12:47 am

🙂 I love you too Mom!


5 Teresha April 18, 2012 at 3:25 am

“Tanning will make freckles get darker and have babies”- You cannot imagine the picture in my head! LOL!
I know all about freckles too!


6 The Redhead Riter April 18, 2012 at 3:26 am

LOL Teresha! I bet I can imagine exactly what you were thinking because “giving birth” is still very much on your mind!


7 Jaz April 18, 2012 at 4:11 am

As a very fortunate red-head with freckles, I was always glad to be me and not my sister…typical fair-skinned redhead who burnt if the sun looked at her. Her feckles are the size of saucers and she copped lots of jokes from our brothers. She didn’t like my brown eyes or skin that tanned in summer as I was allowed outside. The minute difference in genetics through an eye color!


8 The Redhead Riter April 18, 2012 at 4:12 am

I can FEEEEEEEEEEEEEL for your sister, Jaz! {{{hugsss}}} for your sister LOL

Really? “Saucer” sized freckles ? Oh my!!!


9 Rebecca Fyfe April 18, 2012 at 7:53 am

I have to say, judging by those photos, I have way more freckles than you. lol!

Another fact is that, while it’s true that the same gene that causes red hair also has a lot to do with us getting freckles, it’s actually a mutation of the gene that causes both. My older children, fans of X-Men, love to state that their mom is a mutant. Too bad I didn’t get any cool superpowers from it! (I just get the power of turning red very quickly in sunlight.) lol!


10 The Redhead Riter April 18, 2012 at 7:55 am

My Dear Mutant Rebecca…LOL

THAT is really cute. Kids do say the darnedest things!

Funny thing is I have the same superpower as you which is why I stay out of the sun as much as possible. By staying out of the sun, not only do I not get sunburned, but my freckles stay light, don’t have babies and it is keeping my skin more youthful! Yay!!!


11 andy April 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm

How nice. Witnessing love flow from your mother to you then from you to Alyssa and back, that is. Beautiful!!

Just to touch on a different topic before i become all mushy 🙂 English is not my native language, but it is the language that i primarily use for about a decade and a half now. I am really happy when people compliment me on my English language skills, but I would have not been able to learn to write it well without the help of the American Heritage Dictionary.

Not judging Merriam-Webster, just sharing a preference with a friend.
American Heritage Dictionary Entry: Freckle



12 The Redhead Riter April 18, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I will definitely check out the American Heritage Dictionary, Andy. Thanks! I love the dictionary because it is filled with so many words neatly organized on page after page after page. There’s just nothing like a good, fat dictionary!! 🙂


13 Judy A. Harper April 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm

My daughter and grandson are covered in freckles! She gets them from her Dad. While I always thought they were beautiful, she didn’t! They don’t seem to bother my grandson.


14 The Redhead Riter April 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm

LOL Judy! I don’t think freckles “bother” men like they do women. I haven’t figured that one out yet!


15 Mike T April 18, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Freckles indeed CAN be very sexy. As a guy who’s long been drawn towards the auburn, red, and strawberry blonde ladies, freckles have long given me maps of places to kiss!


16 The Redhead Riter April 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Hmmmm….Mike…maps? LOL


17 Judy A. Harper April 19, 2012 at 8:54 am

Have you ever seen a picture of Doris Day up close? She is covered in freckles!


18 The Redhead Riter April 19, 2012 at 8:55 am


I have seen pics of Doris Day! So many actresses have them and they just get blotted out in the movies and on photographs. Sometimes I’ve seen them and thought, “I didn’t know he/she had freckles!”


19 alex June 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Heyy! i looked up how to get rid of freckles and i saw your website- by the way its reallyyyy good!:) ok back to the point. im 13 and i have alot of freckles on my face and arms but they are tiny. i CAN get tan in the summer but that means more freckles. i get them from my mom. i half-way like them and half-way don’t. i have brown hair and brown eyes- and brown freckles.:) i just want SOME of them off. any tips will help. thx:)


20 The Redhead Riter June 25, 2012 at 7:41 am


The easiest way to not get any more AND to make the freckles you have fade is to stay out of the sun and use high SPF sunscreen. I suggest you learn to love your freckles! :o)


21 Jim Richards March 26, 2015 at 12:27 pm

… ** me – holding up my brown (even in winter) arm 😉 ** … my Filipina mother blessed my sisters and me with a wonderful affinity for the sun and its blessings … we used to have a tradition, when we were all still living at home, of marching out in shorts at noon on Easter every year to sit side-by-side on the front stoop … we gave ourselves 15 minutes and compared tan lines on our legs – Deanna always won …. 😀


22 Sherry Riter April 1, 2015 at 6:46 am

I’m so jealous of your natural tan! LOL


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