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Freckles 101

How to Get Rid of Freckles

If you talk to your doctor about getting rid of your freckles, he or she will probably tell you that there's no need to. Freckles are mostly harmless, and there's no real reason to treat them. However, if you're really unhappy with your appearance because of your freckles, there are a number of treatments that can help to get rid of them.

First, some topical creams, both over-the-counter and prescription, can lighten skin color and make it look more even. However, the active ingredient in these creams is hydroquinone, and doctors warn that creams with over 4 percent hydroquinone may increase your risk of cancer [source: Lloyd]. If you still decide to use one of these creams, apply it every day and you should see results in a few months.

Another, more extreme method of getting rid of freckles is cryosurgery, in which a doctor uses liquid nitrogen to freeze them off. Also available are laser treatments, photofacials, chemical peels and intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy, the latter of which uses light energy to target skin cells that have color in them.

It might be difficult to get rid of the freckles you already have, but it's not so hard to prevent more from appearing. One way you can do this is by protecting yourself from the sun. Avoid being outside during peak sunlight hours, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you do need to be outside, make sure that you wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of at least 15 [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. Try to wear protective clothing that covers your arms and legs. Not only will taking these steps help prevent freckles, it'll help prevent skin cancer as well.

If you don't want to take a drastic step to remove your freckles, read on to find out how to hide them.