GentleCure Blog

How to Tell the Difference Between a Freckle and Skin Cancer

Young woman with freckles

Most people have at least a few freckles on their bodies, but can you tell the difference between a freckle vs. skin cancer? Despite how common freckles are, people with freckles are more likely to get skin cancer, so staying aware of whether you have a normal freckle or skin cancer is a good line of defense. 

Freckle vs. Skin Cancer  

When you look in the mirror, do you see a normal freckle or skin cancer? Cancer doesn’t always immediately look scary; in fact, it is a very slow developing disease that often starts out looking like an ordinary mark on your skin. Depending on what type of skin cancer it is, skin cancer lesions can appear in a variety of shapes, textures, and colors, including the common brown or black shades of freckles. 

So how can you detect the difference between a freckle vs. skin cancer? Start by checking in with your ABCDEs:

  • Asymmetry
  • Border irregularity
  • Color change or irregularity
  • Diameter (anything larger than six millimeters)
  • Elevation

If your freckle begins to alter its original shape, size, or color, it’s time to have it checked out. Why? Visual changes could indicate that the skin cells below are behaving in abnormal ways, reacting to environmental stimuli. Freckles that develop unusual characteristics are suspicious, and should be evaluated by a dermatologist as soon as possible. 

One of the best ways to stay on top of any skin cancer freckle is to schedule annual skin cancer screenings. These yearly visits help you and your dermatologist make note of developments in your skin and keep track of what’s new and what to keep an eye on. 

Are People with Freckles More Likely to Get Skin Cancer? 

Yes, people with freckles are more likely to get skin cancer. This is because freckles often appear on fair-toned skin, and those with lighter complexions are more prone to sunburn. Overexposure to sunlight and ultraviolet rays is the number one cause of skin cancer, meaning that those with freckles need to take extra precautions when spending time outdoors. 

To protect your freckles and your skin’s health, use these skin care tips

  • Always wear sunscreen of at least SPF 30, reapplying throughout the day 
  • Wear protective clothing such as sun hats or long-sleeved shirts while standing in direct sunlight 
  • Try to avoid the sun during its peak hours of 11am-4pm 

Stay on Top of Your Freckles

GentleCure is committed to helping patients make an informed decision about the treatment of common skin cancers. If you or a loved one is facing a skin cancer diagnosis, explore our FAQs to get acquainted with Image-Guided SRT, the surgery-free skin cancer treatment. You can also call our Skin Cancer Information Specialists at 855-936-4411 to learn more about this alternative to Mohs surgery.

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For more information on skin cancer treatment options, speak with a Skin Cancer Information Specialist today.

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