Live with your freckles; love ’em or hate ’em, be sure to watch ’em
It seems the search for famed aviator Amelia Earhart’s crash site may hinge upon her freckles. Her disappearance over the South Pacific 75 years ago is a familiar story to most Americans.
In June, fragments of a cosmetic jar to remove freckles were located near where the crash site is believed to be. Dr. C.H. Berry’s Freckle Ointment contained zinc oxide — a sunscreen — and ammoniated mercury. Mercury has been used since ancient times to lighten freckles. While it works very well, most people don’t appreciate the side affects of dementia and tooth loss.
Searchers admit it is not possible to link this directly to Earhart, but as one put it, “We cannot exclude the possibility that someone brought a jar of American women’s freckle cream to a British-administered island where nobody had freckles -— but it doesn’t seem very likely.”
Embracing Your Freckles
It’s a good time to be freckly though. Actresses from Emma Stone to Julianne Moore have made them acceptable, if not outright popular. I’ve had older patients tell me about the bullying they endured and how they tried scrubbing them away with lemon juice and a lot of tears.
Changes In Freckles And Caring For Freckled Skin
Most freckles are uniform in color but they are as varied as the people they populate. From reddish, yellow, fawn, brown or black, freckles come in many colors. They often grow darker and more obvious after sun exposure and start to fade in the fall and winter months. It is a good illustration of how our pigment-producing cell, melanocytes, react to our environmental ultraviolet rays. Get to know your freckles and pay careful attention for any changes as that may signal a skin cancer.
For all of you Old English speakers out there, you know that our modern word freckle is actually evolved from freken, which you borrowed from an Old Norse word, freknur. And if you needed a good Scrabble word, Ephelides is the Greek word and medical term for freckle.
Ever notice that freckles run in families? Twin siblings, including pairs of identical twins and pairs of fraternal — nonidentical — twins, can sometimes have a strikingly similar number of freckles. A genetic mutation in a gene related to melanocytes is responsible for this.
Freckles love to drink in sunlight and turn a darker shade. So wearing sunscreen and practicing good sun hygiene are important if you are trying to minimize their appearance. Should you decide to live life without your freckles, talk with your dermatologist. There are many safe and effective treatments to banish them from your skin.
I personally am a big fan of freckles and recommend wearing them with pride.
But whatever you think of them, please don’t use mercury to lighten them.