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

You asked us, what's a freckle?
 
Simply put, freckles are just areas of concentrated pigment. You see, we have cells in our skin called melanocytes that produce melanin. It is the same pigment that colors our hair and eyes - and 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 and 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 - protecting our DNA from getting damaged and our skin from getting burned.
 
The end result is that existing ephelides darken and new ones pop up. So, 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 (250)
  • hassans-ver
    3/16/2016 - 02:43 p.m.

    I thought that my freckles were a sign about being in the sun too long.

  • hassans-ver
    3/16/2016 - 02:43 p.m.

    first

  • pipern-2-bar
    3/16/2016 - 04:11 p.m.

    The connection between red hair,freckles,and genetics is that one gene is responsible for a freckled appearance. The sunlight includes a ray that forms melanin on skin."The first factor is genetics. We know that at least one gene is responsible for a speckled appearance and that people with light skin and red hair are more likely to get ephelides."(Paragraph 5) I thought this article was interesting because people with freckles wonder why they have them. I have a few freckles but I don't have red hair or pale skin.

  • tessf-6-bar
    3/16/2016 - 05:33 p.m.

    The connection between red hair, freckles, and genetics is that at least one gene that is related to light skin or red hair is connected to freckles. I found this on paragraph 5 when it said, "We know that at least one gene is responsible for a speckled appearance and that people with light skin and red hair are more likely to get ephelides."
    I picked this article because my friend Ginger has a lot of freckles and now I know why they are there.

  • jasminec-6-bar
    3/17/2016 - 05:06 a.m.

    The connection between red hair and freckles is that people with red hair, "are more likely to get ephelides."Ephelides are one of the two types of freckles, which are when the same pigment that colors our hair and eyes clumps together. The connection between freckles and genetics is one gene that causes a freckled appearance.
    I found this article to be pretty interesting because I did not exactly know what freckles were before, even though I have a face full.

  • stephenn-coo
    3/17/2016 - 08:28 a.m.

    The connection between red hair,freckles,and genetics is that one gene is responsible for a freckled appearance. The sunlight includes a ray that forms melanin on skin."The first factor is genetics. We know that at least one gene is responsible for a speckled appearance and that people with light skin and red hair are more likely to get ephelides.

  • chloer-nic
    3/17/2016 - 09:15 a.m.

    The connection between red hair,freckles,and genetics is that one gene is responsible for a freckled appearance. Sun Rays also can cause freckles, because if you get to much sun then ephelides start developing. I think this is pretty cool, I mean I've never had freckles, but I've always wanted them.

  • mariac-
    3/17/2016 - 10:11 a.m.

    Red hair and ephelides can clump together and become freckles. There could be a family member that could have freckles that is getting it passed on to you. Red hair and light skin can also cause you to get freckles

  • samanthas-1-ste
    3/17/2016 - 12:58 p.m.

    The red hair has the same melanin as the skin. That is why red haired people are more likely to have freckles.

  • noahh-1-nic
    3/17/2016 - 01:02 p.m.

    the molecules are the same. the same molecules the color our hair control the amount of freckles we have. and they appear depending on the amount of sun we get.

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