Caring for Children with Freckles

Children with freckles have delicate skin that requires more care when exposed to the sun. In the following article, we'll tell you what you need to know.
Caring for Children with Freckles

Last update: 02 August, 2022

Children with freckles should be more careful at times of sun exposure. This care’s related to an important family component and to the great sun exposure of children with fair skin.

These types of hyperpigmented spots aren’t malignant. However, these children require extreme sun protection because their fair skin puts them at greater risk of sunburn or other types of skin lesions.

What are freckles?

Freckles, also called ephelides, are pigmented skin lesions that appear in early childhood and are associated with sun exposure in young children with fair complexions or red hair, according to publications by Human molecular Genetics .

They’re benign, small spots (1-2 millimeters), which appear most frequently on the face, chest, and shoulders. However, they can appear all over the body.

Melanocytes develop more pigment upon exposure to the sun, and instead of causing sunburn or an even tan, freckles develop in fair-skinned people.

A young boy with freckles and pink cheeks.

Care for children with freckles

Children with a predisposition to freckles or sunspots should take certain precautions when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

There are different types of freckles, all of which are about the same size. In addition, they’re characterized by their uniformity and coloration one tone above the pigmentation of the skin.

Adequate clothing

When exposed to the sun, it’s best to wear clothing that covers the entire skin surface of our body. There are certain aspects to take into account when thinking about how clothing can help protect against the sun’s rays.

Clothing, when wet, protects less than when completely dry. At the same time, dark colors protect more than light fabrics.

Nowadays, there are clothes that already have sun protection. These garments are even labeled with a UV protection factor (UPF) value. The higher the UPF, the more protection the garment provides.

Use of hats for children with freckles

The use of wide-brimmed hats is another recommendation for the care of children with freckles. A publication in The British Journal of Dermatology endorses the use of this type of physical protection. The protection of the ears, nose, neck, eyes, scalp, and forehead is correctly performed with this method.

All these areas are susceptible to damage from ultraviolet rays, although they’re sometimes neglected areas of the body when applying sunscreen.

Apply sunscreen

The application of sunscreen isn’t a particular indication for children with freckles, but for the entire population. In turn, the sunscreen should have a protection factor greater than or equal to 50 and a broad spectrum against UVB and UVA radiation. These are available in various presentations:

  • Aerosols
  • Creams
  • Lotions
  • Gels

For children, the most child-friendly presentation of sunscreen is in aerosol form because it’s easier to apply and spread. They may even be able to apply it themselves.

Another consideration that should be taken into account is the expiration date of the sunscreen before opening it. Once opened, it should be consumed within one year; after this period, it should be discarded.

Stay in the shade at peak times

As for children with freckles, just as for the rest of the population, those times when sun exposure is very intense should be avoided.

A red-headed teen with freckles.

These hours to avoid are between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. However, in those cases where exposure during this period is unavoidable, the importance of sunscreen and its reapplication every 2 hours is reinforced.

On cloudy days or when the sun isn’t fully expressed, care should be the same as on a sunny day. This means that clouds don’t block ultraviolet rays, but pass through haze and clouds. Snow, sand, and water are surfaces that further enhance the effects of the sun’s rays.

Children with freckles should wear glasses with UV protection

Just as sunscreen and avoiding exposure during peak hours are useful measures to care for the skin of children with freckles, so are UV filtering glasses.

Advice from the American Academy of Ophthalmology states that this type of lens protects the eyes and all the delicate structures that make up the eyes. However, before buying them, you should check the label to confirm if they are effective in blocking UVA and UVB rays.

We hope these tips for the care of children with freckles will be of help to you in preserving the health of your little ones.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Rhodes AR, Albert LS, Barnhill RL, Weinstock MA. Sun-induced freckles in children and young adults. A correlation of clinical and histopathologic features. Cancer. 1991 Apr 1;67(7):1990-2001. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19910401)67:7<1990::aid-cncr2820670728>;2-p. PMID: 2004316.
  • Bastiaens M, ter Huurne J, Gruis N, Bergman W, Westendorp R, Vermeer BJ, Bouwes Bavinck JN. The melanocortin-1-receptor gene is the major freckle gene. Hum Mol Genet. 2001 Aug 1;10(16):1701-8. doi: 10.1093/hmg/10.16.1701. PMID: 11487574.
  • Praetorius C, Sturm RA, Steingrimsson E. Sun-induced freckling: ephelides and solar lentigines. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2014 May;27(3):339-50. doi: 10.1111/pcmr.12232. Epub 2014 Mar 3. PMID: 24517859.
  • Burton C, Heald P, Callaway JL. Freckles, moles, and melanomas. N C Med J. 1983 Dec;44(12):801-2. PMID: 6582360.
  • Diffey BL, Cheeseman J. Sun protection with hats. Br J Dermatol. 1992 Jul;127(1):10-2. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.1992.tb14816.x. PMID: 1637687.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.