Are freckles a sign that you may get skin cancer someday?

Q: I have lots of freckles—is that a sign that I might get skin cancer someday? Should I have them removed? A: Freckles are not dangerous, but they are a marker of sun damage. You are not usually born with freckles—they develop in the sun, and may be an indication that someone is at higher risk of skin cancer. Patients often come in who want their freckles erased. I always assess them first for melanoma or a skin cancer, which usually stands out as a larger, mottled brown or flakey patch. If the spots are benign freckles, I have many ways to remove them depending on whether we also want to remove wrinkles or red spots. There are several types of laser treatments available. If I use a pen-size laser, it targets pigment to get rid of them one freckle at a time. But beware: This treatment leaves a scab, so it’s best to only use on small areas. My advice? Before opting for laser treatments, always show your freckles to a true dermatologist just in case they are a dangerous sun spot. —DR. ELLEN MARMUR, expert, dermatologist, Marmur Medical, New York City Go back to All the Answers, October 2013 CLICK TO SEE ALL THE ANSWERS ARCHIVE Brought to you by: Spry Living