What’s a freckle? (Thinkstock)
What’s a freckle?
Lexile

You asked us a question. What is a freckle?
 
Simply put, freckles are just areas of concentrated pigment. We have cells in our skin called melanocytes. They produce melanin. It is the same pigment that colors our hair and eyes. In some people these cells tend to clump together.
 
Now if we wanted to get our science on, we'd call freckles ephelides. (There are two types of freckles: ephelides and lentigines. This video focuses on ephelides.) I'm going to call them ephelides just because I think the name is kind of pretty.
 
Anyway, no one is born with ephelides. They develop over time as two things come into play.
 
The first factor is genetics. We know that at least one gene is responsible for a speckled appearance. We also know that people with light skin and red hair are more likely to get ephelides.
 
The second key ingredient is sunlight. Exposure to the sun cues the cells to kick into high gear and produce more melanin. The reason is that the pigment both absorbs and reflects the sun's harmful UV rays. This protects our DNA from getting damaged and our skin from getting burned.
 
The end result is that existing ephelides darken.  And new ones pop up. They are a good indication of whether or not you might be getting too much sun. Trust the ginger on this one.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What is the connection between red hair, freckles and genetics?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (36)
  • kaleal-2-bar
    3/17/2016 - 12:00 a.m.

    the connection between red hair, freckles, and genetics is that certain genes link red hair to freckles. the article says, "The first factor is genetics. We know that at least one gene is responsible for a speckled appearance." I'm interested in this because i have freckles.

  • matthewa1-bea
    3/17/2016 - 04:51 p.m.

    Red hair is when you die it. Freckles are little red dots that are in your face.

  • johnd-3-bar
    3/17/2016 - 10:32 p.m.

    The connection between red hair and fete led is they are common on people with light skin" We also know that people with light skin and red hair are more likely to get ephelides." Ephelides is a word for freckle. So having light skin and red hair makes it Evan easier to get freckles. That is genetics it was an interesting article.

  • mattl-bel
    3/18/2016 - 09:33 a.m.

    If you have red hair and lite skin you are more likely to get freckles.

  • sophies-bel
    3/18/2016 - 09:35 a.m.

    Well people can get freckles from red hair and our genetics can come in because we can get red hair from our genes.

  • silverc-bel
    3/18/2016 - 09:35 a.m.

    If you have red hair you are most likely to get freckles on your face.

  • elliew-bel
    3/18/2016 - 09:35 a.m.

    Well if you have red hair and light skin you can get freckles easily.

  • sarahj-bel
    3/18/2016 - 09:36 a.m.

    The connection between red hair, freckles and genetics is that if you have light skin you would more likely to get freckles.

  • ahneezad-ver
    3/18/2016 - 02:22 p.m.

    You are more likely to get freckles if you have light skin and red hair, but that's not always the case, my mom has brown hair but her roots were tinted red and she has freckles. It's all in the genetics.

  • erice-ver
    3/18/2016 - 02:23 p.m.

    People wit light skin most likely to get it. Ephelides is what it's called people that have freckles. And you can get it more if your are ginger or other of that race.

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