9

votes

Theory behind freckles!

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 19, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Who gets them? Why do people get them? Whats the relationship to vitamin D production?

Have always always had some freckles, mostly faint on the face. Historically have always burned slightly in early summer then gotten very dark. Now, since going paleo and taking more vitamin D, I get more freckles on my body. Now coming up with theories for why - such as skin isn't producing vitamin D on its own since taking the supplement so it is trying to make more, or such as my skin is protecting itself since i get plenty of D as a supplement. low carb 100% paleo for 1.5 years. There really isnt much literature out there on freckles and sun and vitamin D.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 22, 2011
at 03:08 PM

Definitely! They increase with sun exposure, and fade without it.

E18e363f19b58df35f360e5184de2549

(10)

on July 22, 2011
at 02:40 PM

Interesting, but a tan will fade. How much variation are there in peoples freckles? Do they fade over time as well.

E18e363f19b58df35f360e5184de2549

(10)

on July 22, 2011
at 02:31 PM

I agree that is another valid theory that getting less sun in general may set the stage for skins reaction to more freckles. Interest post.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 20, 2011
at 09:33 PM

Ah, yes, here: Wikipedia says: "Lentigines are distinguished from freckles (ephelis) based on the proliferation of melanocytes. Freckles have a relatively normal number of melanocytes but an increased amount of melanin. A lentigo has an increased number of melanocytes. Freckles will intensify and fade with sunlight exposure, whereas lentigines will stay stable in their color regardless of sunlight exposure."

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 20, 2011
at 09:32 PM

Okay then, but to get uneven melanin, either the distribution of the underlying melanocytes is uneven, or the distribution in the activity of the melanocytes is uneven. Those ones on your back are probably lentigines.

33907fee54e98865a1988e5eef59147e

(480)

on July 20, 2011
at 07:48 PM

Thanks, but there is a distinct difference this summer. I used to have tan skin with just a few faint freckles, now patches of freckles on my shoulders and arms.

33907fee54e98865a1988e5eef59147e

(480)

on July 20, 2011
at 01:44 PM

we've got to get some more attention on this question!

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 19, 2011
at 11:24 PM

good question! so whats the deal with white freckles and redish ones? same thing?

4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on July 19, 2011
at 08:59 PM

I used to freckle but don't at all now. Not diet related in my case - it stopped as I got older. Now I don't go as brown - but it is even!!!!

33907fee54e98865a1988e5eef59147e

(480)

on July 19, 2011
at 08:03 PM

thanks, but have been in the sun much less this summer than previous summers - and come to think of it, that is another potential theory

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on July 19, 2011
at 07:48 PM

I don't know what causes them, but I do know I've noticed more of them after getting sunburned. I don't know if it's caused by the sunburn itself, or if it's my body's reaction to the sunburn--trying to prepare itself for future burns type thing. I'm interested to hear some responses! 8)

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5 Answers

2
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 20, 2011
at 05:43 PM

If I understand correctly, freckles are just the result of a uneven distribution of melanocytes, and it's genetic whether you have this distribution or not.

I'm not sure this makes sense, but maybe the progression with increasing sunlight exposure goes like this: first, the areas with more melanocytes produce melanin, making freckles. Then, since the freckled areas are now more protected from exposure, the in-between areas start to catch up, eventually producing an even tan. In some people, this never happens, the freckles just get more numerous and darker. Maybe this represents a more extreme unevenness in distribution, with some areas completely without melanocytes, like albino skin, that can't ever darken.

If this is how it works, then your speculation above that you have freckles now from lower than usual sun exposure would fit.

ETA: From Wikipedia:

Lentigines are distinguished from freckles (ephelis) based on the proliferation of melanocytes. Freckles have a relatively normal number of melanocytes but an increased amount of melanin. A lentigo has an increased number of melanocytes. Freckles will intensify and fade with sunlight exposure, whereas lentigines will stay stable in their color regardless of sunlight exposure.

So it's uneven production, not the cells themselves, except in the case of lentigines. HT gingernaut.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 22, 2011
at 03:08 PM

Definitely! They increase with sun exposure, and fade without it.

E18e363f19b58df35f360e5184de2549

(10)

on July 22, 2011
at 02:40 PM

Interesting, but a tan will fade. How much variation are there in peoples freckles? Do they fade over time as well.

1
351cbf133b44fb7a1b90781e148d28d7

on July 20, 2011
at 07:14 PM

The darkest freckles on my body are located on spots that almost never see the sunlight - namely my shoulders - and it's been like that my entire life, regardless of sun exposure.

Freckles are determined by a mix of genetics and sun exposure, due to an uneven distribution of melanin (the skin pigment, not melanocytes, the cells that produce the pigment). It could simply be that going Paleo has made you hyper aware of changes. As in, you may just be overthinking the whole thing. Sometimes the simplest answer is the best one!

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 20, 2011
at 09:33 PM

Ah, yes, here: Wikipedia says: "Lentigines are distinguished from freckles (ephelis) based on the proliferation of melanocytes. Freckles have a relatively normal number of melanocytes but an increased amount of melanin. A lentigo has an increased number of melanocytes. Freckles will intensify and fade with sunlight exposure, whereas lentigines will stay stable in their color regardless of sunlight exposure."

33907fee54e98865a1988e5eef59147e

(480)

on July 20, 2011
at 07:48 PM

Thanks, but there is a distinct difference this summer. I used to have tan skin with just a few faint freckles, now patches of freckles on my shoulders and arms.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 20, 2011
at 09:32 PM

Okay then, but to get uneven melanin, either the distribution of the underlying melanocytes is uneven, or the distribution in the activity of the melanocytes is uneven. Those ones on your back are probably lentigines.

0
149af6e19a06675614dfbb6838a7d7c0

on September 13, 2011
at 02:26 AM

You are related to Carrot Top. Your genes express themselves in Vegas.

0
E7e57f3e3a156df4072ca85d463f8ed3

(358)

on September 13, 2011
at 01:31 AM

My freckles fade in winter, but the same ones come back the following summer - like constellations in the sky.

I tend to get bigger freckles on my shoulders when I get too much sun at once.

-1
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on July 19, 2011
at 08:01 PM

I'm thinking the main reason you're freckling on your body these days is because you're getting more sun exposure for some reason. It doesn't take much.

I don't think freckles have anything to do with vitamin D status. Certainly I've never heard of any evidence linking the two things.

It's almost entirely genetics and sun exposure. Mostly it's white/European people who freckle (duh). And more usually people with red, blond, or light brown hair and the corresponding very light skin.

I'm from a blondish, pale family. My one sister, father, and I have never freckled at all (we have light but yellowish skin and tan golden). My mother and other sister have pale rosy skin and freckle quite a bit (as well as burning easily). The more sun, the more freckles.

33907fee54e98865a1988e5eef59147e

(480)

on July 19, 2011
at 08:03 PM

thanks, but have been in the sun much less this summer than previous summers - and come to think of it, that is another potential theory

E18e363f19b58df35f360e5184de2549

(10)

on July 22, 2011
at 02:31 PM

I agree that is another valid theory that getting less sun in general may set the stage for skins reaction to more freckles. Interest post.

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